“Change is coming,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared Tuesday at a War on Regulations symposium hosted by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards and Georgetown University Law School. In her live-streamed speech, Warren revealed plans to introduce anti-corruption legislation to protect the American public from the Trump administration’s corporate-friendly deregulatory agenda.
“When we send a message that corporate profits and powerful interests cannot overpower the health, safety, and economic well-being of hardworking families, we fire a warning shot,” she said. “This is our time, our responsibility, our chance to build a country where government works, not just for the rich and powerful, but government that works for the people.”
In her 30-minute address, Warren highlighted the Trump administration’s efforts to defang the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency she helped establish. “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 cost to consumers be damned,” she warned.
“But it’s not just the CFPB that is 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,” Warren continued. “Giant corporations and wealthy individuals are working in the shadows to make sure that government works for them, not for the people.”
As an example, Warren pointed to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Corruption oozes out of his office, from wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cutting deals to make himself rich to doing the bidding of the highest-paid lobbyists,” she said, noting his attacks on the Clean Water Rule, pesticide safety, the Clean Power Plan, vehicle emissions caps, and methane emissions limits.
The senator rebuffed the GOP’s favored narrative that regulations hinder businesses and individual freedom—calling that claim “a greasy baloney sandwich that has been left out in the sun so long that it has started to stink.” She also detailed the importance of regulations throughout American history and argued that “good rules empower people to live, work, and do business freely and safely.”
In response to the ongoing deregulatory efforts of wealthy “corporate predators”—which Warren noted have continued since the Reagan administration under presidents from both parties—the senator said she will soon introduce “sweeping anti-corruption legislation to clean up corporate money sloshing around Washington and make it possible for our elected government to actually work for the American people again.”
“My plan will padlock the revolving door between government and industry,” she vowed. “It will eliminate the ability of government decision-makers to enrich themselves through their government service. It will empower federal agencies pass strong regulations that benefit the public by ending corporate capture of the regulatory process.”
Watch Warren’s full remarks:
In addition to Warren’s address, the symposium featured two panels: one focused on the deregulatory agenda the Trump administration has imposed at federal agencies, and one focused on the communities that have suffered under that agenda. Participants included former EPA scientist Betsy Southerland; Public Citizen president Robert Weissman; and Heidi Shierholz, the senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute.