White Collar Crime and the Trump Administration

by Rena Steinzor | April 27, 2017

Cross-posted by permission from the Columbia Blue Sky Blog.

The Obama administration had a mixed record on white collar crime. On one hand, it extracted $4 billion and a guilty plea from BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill. On the other hand, it allowed HSBC, then the fourth largest bank in the world, to sign a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) over charges of laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel and serving as a banker for illicit regimes in Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan. The bank paid $1.256 billion in penalties, but because it never admitted its crimes and controlled such vast amounts of money, the payment looked more like a cost of doing business than punishment. In fact, the Obama administration Department of Justice (DOJ) under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer used DPAs more often than did any other administration. Holder and Breuer repeatedly explained such settlements as necessary to avoid putting corporations out of business and inflicting collateral damage on innocent employees and shareholders. Holder told senators who questioned the HSBC settlement that he thought some institutions were, in effect, too big to jail. When the statute of limitations ran out in 2015 for indictments arising out of ...

Workers' Memorial Day: Honoring Fallen Workers, Fighting for Safer Jobs

by Katie Tracy | April 26, 2017
Every worker has a right to a safe job. Yet on an average day of the week, 13 U.S. workers die on the job due to unsafe working conditions. An additional 137 lives are lost daily due to occupational diseases – mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, among others.  On Friday – Workers' Memorial Day – we will stand with the families, friends, and colleagues of fallen workers to remember each of them as individuals whose lives represent much more than a ...

New CPR Project - CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 25, 2017
If Donald Trump has learned anything over the last 100 days, it's that unlike in golf, you can't call a Mulligan on the beginning of your presidency, no matter how much it might improve your score.  These last few months have been long on scandals and failure (Russian probes, the spectacular implosion of Trumpcare, etc.) and short on policy accomplishments, particularly in the legislative realm. This sad state of affairs has left Trump's PR team looking to inject some positive ...

New Report: Trump's New 'Regulatory Czar' and the Continuing Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 20, 2017
As the clock ticked closer to the end of the work day a few Fridays back, the Trump administration quietly made an announcement certain to put smiles on the faces of many corporate interest lobbyists in and around the DC Beltway: Neomi Rao, a little known but very conservative law professor at George Mason University's Scalia Law School, would be the nominee for Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The announcement probably went unnoticed ...

Baltimore's Experience May Yield Lessons for Senate as It Debates Integrated Planning Bill

by Evan Isaacson | April 13, 2017
The City of Baltimore is wrapping up an $800 million upgrade of its largest sewage treatment plant. At the same time, the city is starting a $160 million project to retrofit a drinking water reservoir; is in the midst of a $400 million project to realign a major section of its sewer system; and is spending several million on projects throughout the city to manage polluted runoff from its streets and other paved surfaces. And these are just a few ...

The Key Ingredient in Trump's Anti-Reg 2-for-1 Executive Order? Fuzzy Math

by James Goodwin | April 12, 2017
Steve Bannon's crusade to deconstruct the administrative state took two big steps forward last week, concluding with Donald Trump nominating George Mason University Law School professor Neomi Rao as his "regulatory czar." CPR will publish a new report on the role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator during the Trump administration in the days to come, but for now, I want to focus on the first big development: Acting Administrator Dominic Mancini's new memo providing agencies ...

How Trump's Proposed Cuts to EPA Disempower States

by Karen Sokol | April 11, 2017
Last month, President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which calls for sharp cuts to many agencies in order to fund increases in defense and military spending. Hardest hit is the Environmental Protection Agency. Already underfunded, EPA will simply not be able to carry out its statutory mandates to keep our environment clean and healthy if subjected to Trump's proposed cut of 31 percent. Rather, the Trump administration asserts that the agency would "primarily support States and ...

Looking for Inspiration Outside the Beltway? See What's Happening in Maryland.

by Matt Shudtz | April 10, 2017
Thank goodness for state-level policymakers who are resisting the Trump administration's extreme policies. Attorneys general from around the nation are making headlines by fighting Trump's discriminatory immigration ban. Governors from both major political parties stood up to the attempt to strip away health care from millions of hard-working Americans and their children. And mayors and law enforcement officials are lifting up undocumented residents and recognizing their many contributions to our society, rather than assisting in the indiscriminate roundups Trump has ...

Why Trump's Environmental Rollbacks Won't Boost the Economy

by Michelle Zemil | April 07, 2017
It was Ronald Reagan who popularized attacks on regulations when he was on the campaign trail in 1980, and since then, the tactic has been an inescapable feature of our political landscape. The false claims about environmental regulations, job creation, and the economy have been repeated so frequently and for so long that many Americans don't even question them. Yet no matter how many times a fallacy like this is repeated, it remains untrue.  President Trump and his administration have ...

News and Observer Op-ed: Bill Would Weaken Neighbors' Ability to Be Compensated in Hog Farm Lawsuits

by Sidney Shapiro | April 05, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. The civil justice system in North Carolina exists to protect people and their property from unreasonable actions by others. One of the longest standing causes of action in civil courts is for nuisance claims, which allow you to bring suit when your neighbor creates a condition on their property that interferes with your ability to use and enjoy your property, such as excessive noise, poorly stored garbage that might attract ...

The GOP's Race to Repeal

by Matthew Freeman | April 04, 2017
This June marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the great sea battle that was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. The American victory over the Japanese at Midway, a tiny atoll literally midway between California and Japan, ended the period of expansion of Japanese-held territory in the Pacific. And so began the long, bloody march that led to Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and that eventually led American bombers to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Last week, ...

CPR Scholars on the Nation's Opinion Pages

by Matthew Freeman | April 03, 2017
CPR Member Scholars published another bumper crop of op-eds this past month. We maintain a running list on our op-eds page, but to save CPRBlog readers a click or two, here's a quick rundown: On March 3, David Driesen had a piece in The Hill – that's a Washington, D.C., outlet aimed at the policy community – headlined, "Ruling by Decree." Driesen takes the president to task for issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undercutting duly enacted laws. "No ...

News and Observer Op-ed: Trump Can Order, but Federal Judges Will Decide on Climate Rules

by Victor Flatt | April 03, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. President Trump's new "energy" executive order is an attempt to roll back Obama regulations on climate change, and even make considerations of climate change disappear from much of the policymaking process altogether. That's quite a lot to accomplish by executive order, and despite all the media attention he got for it, the president is eventually going to discover that he can't eradicate climate realities from federal consideration with the stroke ...

Trump's Executive Order on Climate Policy Rollbacks, Annotated

by Emily Hammond | March 29, 2017
Donald Trump's anti-climate action executive order is, as CPR President Rob Verchick puts it, a classic act of bullying. As I describe in an annotated version of the order, it is also irrational, failing to achieve the very aims it purports to support while inflicting damage to our climate, environment, natural resources, wildlife, and yes – even our coal miners.  In the annotation, I walk through each section of the order, providing an analysis and commentary on just what it ...

Sowing Confusion and Doubt, Trump Attempts Climate Policy Rollbacks

by Robert Verchick | March 28, 2017
Donald Trump has been in office only 68 days, and already I've passed the threshold from shock to boredom. His order to erase climate change from federal policy, preceded by a speech before captive members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only seals the deal. I served at the EPA during President Obama's first term, helping that agency and others prepare for the hazards of climate change. That work is serious and complicated and subtle. Trump, of course, is anything ...

Trump Cuts and the EPA: Making America Less Healthy Again

by Joel Mintz | March 27, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in The South Florida Sun Sentinel. The most drastic cut in President Donald Trump's recently released budget outline is to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency tasked by law with setting and enforcing national standards to limit water, air, and land pollution; conducting scientific research to protect our health and the environment; and assisting state and local governments in reducing pollution. Even as the tasks assigned to it by Congress have multiplied over the years, the EPA's budget has ...

Trumping Innovation

by Joseph Tomain | March 21, 2017
Yale economist William Baumol has written extensively on the connection between innovation and economic productivity. He has demonstrated that the United States has long been committed to promoting innovation, and through innovation, virtuous circles of economic growth are created. Unfortunately, the current administration appears committed to curtailing, even stopping, that growth. The president's first budget has many targets. One, though, directly contradicts Baumol's research and, more problematically, directly contradicts the U.S. Constitution. From the Founding, it has been a fundamental ...

As EPA Embarks on Dangerous Experiment in Federalism, How Will States Respond?

by Evan Isaacson | March 20, 2017
In the early 1970s, Congress passed the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act on nearly unanimous votes. The overwhelming support for these new laws reflected not only the horrific condition of America’s air, water, and landscape at the time, but also an appreciation of the collective action problem states faced, necessitating federal action. The major environmental laws that passed in the following years were predicated on the need to set a federal floor for environmental standards in order to ...

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