Trump’s ongoing scandals mask a radical agenda that hurts everyday people

JESSE JACKSON JR | 9/25/2018, 8:46 p.m.
Trump’s serial scandals – Stormy Daniels, the Russia investigation, the Paul Manafort verdict, the Cohen guilty plea, the juvenile tweets ...
Rainbow PUSH founder/president Jesse Jackson Sr. Robyn H. Jimenez

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Trump’s serial scandals – Stormy Daniels, the Russia investigation, the Paul Manafort verdict, the Cohen guilty plea, the juvenile tweets – fill the headlines. Beneath the noise, however, Trump’s appointees and the Republican Congress are relentlessly pursuing a radical right-wing agenda that is gutting basic protections for workers, consumers and the environment.

This is often characterized as Trump’s fixation on erasing everything Obama, but it goes far beyond that.

Trump’s administration and Congress are not only rolling back President Obama’s policies, but also weakening the advances of the Great Society, the Civil Rights Movement, and even pillars of the New Deal. Consider the following:

Eviscerating the Voting Rights Act

The Department of Justice has essentially abandoned enforcement of voting rights. The signal was sent when DOJ lawyers withdrew from the Texas voter-ID case in which the Obama Justice Department was co-counsel, arguing that the Texas act was intentionally designed to discriminate against people of color. Combined with the Supreme Court’s right-wing gang of five weakening the act in Shelby County v. Holder, there is now a virtual vacuum of voting rights enforcement.

Savaging enforcement of civil rights

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has dramatically weakened enforcement of basic civil rights in the Justice Department, the same is true across the government. The Labor Department disbanded its civil rights division. The Department of Education gutted the budget of its Office of Civil Rights. The Environmental Protection Agency targeted the Environmental Justice program for elimination.

For immigrants, basic civil rights have been trampled – from the travel ban orders affecting predominantly Muslim countries, upending the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program for the young people who were born here and know no other country, to the grotesque policy that separated children from their parents at the border.

Under Sessions, the Justice Department has also essentially abandoned what was a bipartisan effort to bring about criminal justice reform, with Sessions ordering a review of the consent decrees that were addressing systematic racial discrimination and police brutality.

Climate change denial

Trump famously announced he will pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, while his appointees have sought to scrub any mention of climate change from government websites. EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, replaced the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan that limited the release of greenhouse gases from power plants.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has abandoned efforts to end the 30-year rip off of government by fossil fuel companies mining public lands. At a time when even the Pentagon recognizes climate change as a real and present threat to national security, the Trump administration remains in denial.

Undermining public education

Under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has become the vessel of for-profit plunder. Her budgets seek to use public funds for private school vouchers. Stunningly, the DOE is pushing plans to make it harder for students to repay their college debts, ending or weakening various plans to limit the burden.

Now DeVos is jettisoning rules that require for-profit colleges to provide an education that actually prepares graduates for decent jobs, opening the door for rip-offs like Trump’s own notorious university.