Elizabeth Warren says there's a dirty little secret behind the Republicans' push for broad deregulation

Scott Eisen/Getty ImagesElizabeth Warren.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren sharply criticises the Trump administration’s wide-ranging deregulatory efforts, pushing hard against the notion that rules of the road restrict economic freedom.
  • “Deregulation is code for ‘let the rich guys do whatever they want,'” Warren said during a keynote speech at Georgetown University Law School.
  • She says Republicans’ war on regulation is really “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.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a scathing critique of Republican efforts to deregulate industries ranging from energy and finance to the environment and consumer safety under President Donald Trump.

Warren, seen as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, said the argument that regulations restrict economic activity was just a front for corporations and their lobbyists who want to minimise restrictions on their activities, even when they harm the environment or consumers.

“Deregulation is code for ‘let the rich guys do whatever they want,'” Warren said in the keynote speech of an event at Georgetown University Law School, sponsored by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards. “The Trump administration and an army of lobbyists are determined to rig the game in their favour, to boost their own profit, the cost of the consumer be damned.”

Warren is worried that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose creation was her signature undertaking, is being damaged under its acting director, Mick Mulvaney. In the past he has questioned the very need for the CFPB’s existence. Since taking its helm, he has tried to restrict the agency’s scope and independence and, among other steps, dropped a lawsuit against a payday lender who was allowed to charge an interest rate of 950%.

“So why is this happening? Why favour profits of Wall Street banks over the economic security of American families? The answer is pretty simple: corruption,” she said.

“To hide what they’re doing big corporations and Republicans here in Washington often claim that regulations are bad for the economy. They go on and on about how big government restricts freedom and makes it harder for businesses to succeed. That is a big greasy baloney sandwich.”

Warren said the CFPB represents just a slice of what’s happening across the government under Trump: “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.”

She then made an impassioned argument about how regulations can enhance rather than restrict freedom:

“Let’s talk about real freedom – freedom from being cheated by those who care about pumping up their own profits and don’t care about you. Regulations are about setting the rules of the road, plain and simple. Done right strong fair regulations protect the freedom of every American.

How free would you be if companies were allowed to lie to you about their businesses in order to trick you into investing their life savings in their stock? How free would you be if no one had to wash their hands before they handled your hamburger? How free would you be if companies could pass off little white pills as antibiotics even if they weren’t.

Don’t tell me that all rules do is restrict freedom. Good rules empower people to live work and do business freely and safely. The war on regulation is waged on behalf of big corporations who don’t want to follow any rules.

So let’s call it what it 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.”

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