Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich: Republicans Justify ‘Distrust of Government, Because They Do Such a Bad Job Protecting the Public’

( – Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Wednesday blamed the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Republican attempts at deregulation.

“That is absolutely right. The problem is that big corporations put in a lot of money into campaigns. Follow the money. Those lobbyists and the money are designed to get what? Tax cuts and regulatory so-called relief,” Reich told MSNBC’s “The Reidout.”

“When you are dealing with health and safety and environmental regulations, you are playing with people’s lives if you get rid of those. We see this,” the former labor secretary said.

“So whether it’s a train derailment or it’s children working in meat-packing plants or wherever you look in America, big corporations who have been relieved, and yeah they use this term relief, relieved of these health, safety and environmental and labor regulations actually are exposing the public, consumers and workers to more hazards,” he said.

“This is a direct redistribution of income and wealth from average working people to the biggest investors and the biggest billionaires in America. 


Host Joy Reid accused Republicans of pushing for deregulation with the argument that it will make things cheaper for consumers, and they don’t want the federal government to regulations, but they need the government to “come and fix it after the chemicals are already in the water.”

Reich agreed, calling it “a form of trickle-down economics.”

Basically, they are saying, let companies make as much money as possible when billionaires who are investing in these companies make huge amounts of money and eventually the benefits will trickle down to everybody else. The reality is the benefits don’t trickle down to everybody else.  

If you deregulate, if you get rid of health safety, labor and environmental regulations, you are exposing more and more people to corporate greed. One of the things that Republicans love to do is accuse Democrats of being socialists of communists as if the real choice is between socialism and capitalism. 

No. Capitalism requires guardrails. Greed requires some constraints . Regulation for the last hundred 50 years is the way we in this country have said to big corporations, go ahead. Make as much money as possible, but protect the public. We ask you, we demand that the public be protected. 

Reid said that during Republican administrations, you see government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) being handed over to someone from the very industry they are tasked to regulate.

“Even when they are doing some form of federal regulation, it is the bad guys policing themselves,” she said.

The former labor secretary agreed.

“It’s the foxes policing the hen houses, and you just can’t do that. Whether it comes in the form of big campaign contributions or it comes in the form of a revolving door in which the company’s executives are temporarily overseeing regulations, it is the same result, and the result is the public is sacrificed, public interest is being sacrificed,” he said.

Reich said that former President Ronald Reagan’s assertion that “government is the problem” has evoked a mistrust of the federal government, but he said that while Democrats share some blame, every time a Republican is in control, they justify this distrust by doing such a bad job of protecting the public.

When Ronald Reagan said 40 years ago, the government is your enemy, don’t trust the government. Unfortunately, that view seeped into American consciousness to the point where we don’t really feel that the government is on our side. 

Every time Republicans in particular — Democrats share some of this blame – but every time in particular Republicans are in control, they justify that distrust of government, because they do such a bad job protecting the public. 

That’s why we’ve got to get into this vicious cycle, reverse the vicious cycle and make sure that the private sector is working for America, is making us better off, not just the top executives, not just the biggest shareholders, but all of us whether we are buying products, whether we are in the communities where these products are being created, whether we are consumers or workers.

It doesn’t matter. We all need some degree of protection. 


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