Multinational Monitor

MAY 2001
VOL 22 No. 5


Rollback: The Corporate Regulatory Feeding Frenzy
Foreward by
Monitor Staff

Bush's Corporate Cabinet
by Charlie Cray

The Repetitive Motion Un-Rule
by Deborah Weinstock

Arsenic and Old Regs
by Lynn Thorp

The Roadless Tramelled
by Ned Daly

Bankrupt Policies
by Jake Lewis

Bush’s Hot Air
by Phil Radford

Mining Their Own Business
by Charlie Cray

Defending Contractor Irresponsibility
by Robert Weissman

A Regulatory Accident in the Making
by Charlie Cray

Cheney and Halliburton: Go Where the Oil Is
by Kenny Bruno
and Jim Valette


The Politics and Law of Worker Rights
an interview with
William Gould


Behind the Lines

Challenging the Oiligarchy

The Front
Medical Privacy, For Now

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Rollback: A Corporate Feeding Frenzy During Bush’s Honeymoon

It has been a busy first hundred days for the Bush administration.

Among the new administration’s first acts was an across-the-board order by Bush’s chief of staff and ex-automobile industry lobbyist Andrew Card to suspended a raft of new regulations adopted at the end of the Clinton administration, including important rules to protect the environment and workers.

In the ensuing three months, the administration managed to offend a wide array of constituents, including those concerned about:

  • Worker Rights — by repealing of the rule to protect against repetitive motion injuries — the "ergonomics" rule; and barring project labor agreements, which ensure union and worker rights in complex construction projects.
  • The Environment — by pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, the international global warming treaty, and abandoning a promise to regulate emissions of CO2 from power plants; pulling back from new arsenic regulations; refusing to implement forest protection measures; undermining chemical plant safety rules; and weakening energy efficiency rules for air conditioning.
  • Public health — by potentially denying funding to the Justice Department to pursue its litigation against the tobacco industry; increasing public exposure to environmental hazards; proposing a weakening of a rule to protect children from salmonella, before retreating under pressure.
  • Consumers — by signing into law a bankruptcy bill that will deny effective bankruptcy protection to the poor; and refusing to cap interstate power prices, letting power producers continue their spectacular gouging of California consumers.
  • Tax justice — by proposing a massive tax cut heavily tilted to favor the rich and sure to starve the federal budget of monies for important programs.
  • Corporate responsibility — by initiating the repeal of the contractor responsibility rule, which would have empowered procurement officers to deny contracts to companies with a record of serious violation of worker, environmental, tax, antitrust, consumer protection and other laws.
  • Civil rights — by threatening to close the White House civil rights office and the White House AIDS office.

Additionally, Bush’s cabinet draws heavily on the corporate sector, as our cabinet profiles illustrate. The administration’s subcabinet appointments, which have been very slow in coming, are likely to be at least as corporate in orientation, and perhaps more so.

Many or most of the suspended or rescinded regulations were issued at the very last minute by an outgoing Clinton-administration. Some speculate the Clinton administration issued many of the new rules as a trap for the Bush administration — daring the incoming administration to repeal them — and might not have been so quick to put them in place had Gore been elected and a Democratic administration been in office to answer to corporate lobbyists’ demands. Whatever the merits of this speculation, it is certainly the case that the last-minute adoption of the rules made them vulnerable to rapid repeal. The public had not come to rely on the rules, and business had not adjusted to their requirements. If these rules had been in effect for several years, it would have been much harder for the Bush administration to act to undo them.

Still, none of this should obscure the point that it was in fact the Bush administration which has so aggressively carried forward the corporate agenda in such a short period. Given how stacked the new administration is with corporate-tied officials, there is every reason to expect the corporate feeding frenzy to continue throughout Bush’s term.

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