Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Photo: NLJ) Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Photo: NLJ)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration and Republicans’ deregulatory agenda, arguing that Washington’s rallying cry that regulations are “bad” for the economy is a “big, greasy baloney sandwich.”

President Donald Trump “and his team have embarked on an aggressive effort to kill the rules that protect the American people from corporate predators,” Warren said during remarks at Georgetown Law School in Washington.

Republicans “go on and on about how big government restricts freedom and makes it harder for businesses to succeed,” Warren said.

But regulations, Warren proclaimed, are “about setting the rules of the road, plain and simple. That’s all they’re about. Done right, strong, clear regulations protect the freedom of every American.”

Regulations, she argued, have three basic functions:

  • Provide the basic framework that permits commerce to flourish, to ensure that we get what we’ve been promised;
  • Keep thieves out of our pockets. Rules are how we make it illegal to steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street; and
  • Level the playing field for everyone competing for our business.

“The so-called war on regulation isn’t about freedom,” Warren charged. “The war on regulations is waged on behalf of giant companies that don’t want to follow any rules. So let’s call it what it really is: it’s a war on public health, a war on public safety, a war on truly free and competitive markets. A war on American workers. A war on American consumers.”

Warren took on Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt for rolling back climate change regulations, stating that the Center for American Progress estimates that his rollbacks will cost Americans about $260 billion a year, with some of those costs measured “in hospital admissions and funeral bills.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Warren continued, “has delayed the rules to keep for-profit colleges from scamming students,” while Mick Mulvaney, head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, “has rolled back the oversight of payday lenders.”

After the financial crisis, Warren stated, “we fought for a consumer financial protection bureau that would be a strong cop on the beat, making financial products safer. We fought and we won.”

The agency “is under attack now. The Trump administration and an army of lobbyists are determined to rig the game in their favor, to boost their own profits. The costs to the consumers be damned,” Warren said.

The Bureau, she said, “has already put strong regulations in place on mortgages, on student loans, on credit cards and it has forced big financial institutions to return more than $12 billion directly to the consumers they cheated. That’s an agency that works for Americans.”

She went on to state that other agencies are also under attack. “In agency after agency across the federal government, powerful corporations and their Republican allies are working overtime to roll back basic rules that protect the rest of us. So why is this happening? Why favor the profits of Wall Street banks over the economic security of American families? The answer is pretty simple: corruption.”

Warren conceded, however, that she doesn’t believe that every rule is good.

“Sometimes rules need updating. Sometimes regulators get it wrong. Sometimes rules should be eliminated outright. And the corruption of our rulemaking process now runs so deep that rules get perverted into government sponsored protections for giant corporations instead of protection for the American people.”

Warren stated that in the coming weeks she plans to introduce “sweeping anticorruption” legislation “to clean up corporate money sloshing around Washington.”

Her plan, she said, “will padlock the revolving door between government and industry” and eliminate the ability of “government decision-makers to enrich themselves through their government service” and “empower federal agencies to pass strong regulations that benefit the public by ending corporate capture of the regulatory process.”

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