While megatons of attention are understandably being paid to Donald Trump’s latest fascist spew, another Republican is laying out an agenda showing anyone who temporarily forgot why it’s not just The Donnie that needs to be defeated come November.
Consider the six-part agenda under the rubric of "A Better Way” that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been laying out. Previously, we’ve been handed what House Republicans have in mind for national security and poverty.
Today, in a 57-page paper, they provide the blueprint for taking several steps backward in government regulations. Unlike the two previously released parts of the agenda, the regulatory proposals focus on existing legislation or rules—particularly regulations on net neutrality, the financial industry, and dealing with climate change.
But not just those. The plan is to roll back, weaken, and otherwise undermine regulations in several arenas. Bernie Becker writes:
But perhaps the area that gets the most attention in the GOP regulatory proposal is energy — probably no surprise given Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has consistently attacked the Obama administration’s “war on coal” and GOP lawmakers have frequently criticized the White House’s climate regulations.
In their framework, the House GOP calls for making the permitting process for energy projects more efficient, repealing all climate change regulations under the Clean Air Act and increasing offshore drilling.
“Washington sees energy primarily as a source of pollution and not a source of jobs, prosperity and energy security,” House Republicans write. “The environmental and public health benefits of regulations always get consideration (and are frequently exaggerated), while the adverse economic impacts are downplayed or ignored. The addition of global warming concerns greatly exacerbates the imbalance.”
Congressional Republicans, one-third to one-half of them outright global warming deniers, are no strangers at trying to block any attempts at doing anything about this crisis, unprecedented in human history. Republican legislatures and governors are on board with the myopia, jointly suing the Obama administration over the Clean Power Plan that goes into effect in August to control carbon dioxide emissions from power plants fueled by coal or natural gas.
But just whacking these rules isn’t all Ryan and crew have in mind.
The regulatory plan also includes giving states control over federal land, extending offshore oil and natural gas leasing, and streamlining project permits.
It is true that regulations can be overdone, counterproductive, stifling. Reviewing them for problems, voiding or upgrading those that are outdated, and accepting that some regulations aren’t achieving—and perhaps cannot achieve—the goals they were intended to address are all reasonable ways to proceed with a reform. If you just read Ryan’s version of what bad impacts regulations have and how the GOP proposals would improve things, they almost make sense. Until you dig past the boilerplate in those pages and enter the real world. You know, the one where climate change is real and toxic emissions poison people and corporations aren’t always as beneficent as their advertising claims.
Despite all the yadda yadda propaganda to the contrary in the Ryan plan, the wholesale wrecking of regulations is the main objective. Many details are new. But Republican opposition to government regulations is ancient and eternal. Ryan is no pioneer in the matter—just the latest industry marionette.