The US Department of Labor recently hosted a meeting with business executives where they discussed “cutting the red tape,” and when companies talk to lawmakers about cutting red tape, it always ends very badly for American consumers and workers.Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss this issue.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             The US Department of Labor recently hosted a meeting with business executives where they discussed cutting all the red tape and when the companies talked to lawmakers about cutting all the red tape, it always ends up very badly for consumers and workers. It’s cutting all the red tape is just nothing, but it’s just nothing that talk that it’s the equivalent of we don’t want anybody looking over the shoulders of corporate America.

We don’t really care what corporate America does to consumers. You don’t have to, you can cut all the red tape. It’s just another way of saying we really, we really think you’re going to be honest enough and you’re going to be, you’re going to be fair enough with consumers, but we don’t have to worry about you. How outrageous is this story?

Farron Cousins:                  There’s so many different issues with this, and let’s, let’s go to the first one that, let’s talk about that talking point. The cut the red tape. I mean, this is the standard, Republicans say this. Any Republican, whether it’s running for dog catcher or President of the United States, everything in between tell us that regulations are killing jobs. You don’t have a job or you don’t have a good enough job because these, these liberals have put these regulations in place that’s preventing you from succeeding in life.

Your, all your problems are because of regulations. First and foremost, there’s absolutely no reality in that. We have seen study after study showing that regulations, whether they’re environmental or workplace regulations, increase productivity and contribute more money to the local economy. I think for every $1 you spend on regulations, seven extra dollars ripples through the economy.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s true. Well, there’s a reason for it. Okay. The, the reason is this, at first you have the company that says, oh wow, this is fantastic. You know, I can pollute this stream. I can steal this money from mom and pop investors on Wall Street. I can put this particular narc, this pill on the market, this pharmaceutical that we, we have, we have information that it will shut down liver. It’ll shut down a kidney. But we can do that because the FDA’s not looking at us. It, it goes on our, our automobile.

We, you know, the, the we, how many times do we see recalls? And what we find after the recall is the regulator let it happen. The regulator let this bad thing happen, whether it’s a gas tank, gas tanks exploding, the regulators said, yeah, that’s okay. We’re going to let it happen. Monsanto, right now with Roundup, the regulators are letting Monsanto be sold to, on the market and it’s, it’s killing people with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and all, all types of cancers. So your take is the longterm is it’s going to cost.

Farron Cousins:                  And there’s a great example for that. Look, we’re, we’re about what, a week or two at this point away from the, uh, what would this be, the eight year anniversary of the BP oil spill. Now you want to talk about what a lack of regulations does and what it costs a company. Look at what BP did, and I know you know this better than anybody else. The regulators were almost literally in bed with BP and Deepwater Horizon and Trans, I forget the other names.

Mike Papantonio:             Transatlantic.

Farron Cousins:                  But they let them, the regulators said, hey, guys on this rig, why don’t you fill out your own safety reports? Do it in pencil. We’re going to come back and write it in pen. We’re going to not, you know, pop you on this. We’re going to ignore this. Chris Oynes was the regulator on this. And this is what happens and now we have a government that is 100% republican controlled and they’re inviting these business leaders to this little summit that they had a few months ago saying, what can we do for you?

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, what regulations do you want gone? How can we screw your workers and listen to hear this things they wanted to get rid of. The, the overtime rules. They want to get rid of that. They talked about getting rid of a rule to ensure retirement savers don’t receive conflicted advice so they’re screwing with your retirement. And they want to get rid of the rule to require businesses to electronically report workplace injuries and deaths.

Mike Papantonio:             Right, right. Okay. Look, let’s back up just a little bit. You through a lot of stuff out there. We were one of the four, there were four law firms in America that were assigned to handle the BP case. We were one of them. The point that you’re making about, what you were talking about there is what we call regulator capture. Okay? We have a revolving door. We’ve talked about this so many times. You, you have regulation capture.

In the, in the, in fossil fuel industry, we actually had the people who were supposed to be mining management who were supposed to be regulating what was going on, going on the Gulf. In the Gulf, Gulf of Mexico. They were actually having cocaine parties, and where they would bring in prostitutes and they would have these, they was just basically a legalized orgy, you know, in their minds.

Well, you know, we’re just going to have, we’re going to have this huge orgy with these regulators. Well, the regulators, they saw the relationship. They had this, this party, you know where they bring in, they bring in women, they bring in cocaine. They, money would be exchanging hands and all of a sudden they found out, well, these regulators are kind of letting us do what we want to do. This is, these are only a different kind of prostitutes. These are, these are politicians. These prostitutes live in Washington DC. These prostitutes, they get paid another way.

They get paid by way of a, of campaign contributions, but they’re prostitutes nonetheless. They will sell, they’ll sell their character. They’ll sell their honesty. They will, they will, they will sell the consumer down the river for the right amount of money. Now, your point is that right now they’re having this big meeting and the big meeting is where they’re telling corporate America, this is the checklist of things we’re going to do. You give us some more things that you want us to do and we’re going to do it. Right? Isn’t that what’s happening?

Farron Cousins:                  And you had actual employee’s regular civil servants at the Department of Labor, which I think we might’ve skipped that. The Department of Labor put on this meeting. They invited them there and your, the employees in the Department of Labor who helped plan this, said, okay, well we’ve got all these businesses that have RSVP. We need to go ahead and invite the, the labor unions. We need, you know, worker protection agencies and the Department of Labor said, we’re, we’re not going to do that. We’re, we don’t need their voices here.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, you don’t need the voice of the worker.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You only need the voice of the corporation. You need the guy from Wall Street that is, you know, he’s making all the money on this, these, on, on what happens when you deregulate. But you know, here’s how it ends and I think this is where you were headed with this. The regulator may give them a pass. The regulator may say, you know, you don’t have to wear that hat when you’re on the job site or you, you don’t have to wear these gloves or eye goggles.

Osha says, you don’t have to do it anymore. But what ends up happening is that doesn’t stop the lawsuit for the person who still has brain damage because something’s crushed his head or he’s lost his eyes because he didn’t wear goggles. The lawsuit still takes place and in the end when you do the money, when you do the math on it, they, the, the corporation ends up losing a lot because of the accidents that take place.

This is not just, this is an economic issue. Labor protection is an economic issue as well as the safety issue because they’ve done so many studies to follow the economics on it. And when people, as you pointed out, when they play, when they play nice, when they play by the rules, when they will look out for the consumer, the corporation saves much, much more money.

But the DC, the prostitutes, as I pointed out before the DC prostitutes, this is a great opportunity for them to bring in a lot of campaign contributions because across the table is going to be all these corporations that are in the auto business, the pharmaceutical business, you name it, they’re all going to be there for their handout.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and as you’ve pointed out recently too, when you have these CEOs who only stay at a company for three to five years, you know, if, if I’m the CEO and I make the decision, I’m doing away with safety goggles because Osha is okay with it, but then eight of my employees get blinded. Well, I’ve already moved on. So now the new CEO gets to deal with that.

And so the, the way we fix this, the way we change the system is we have to have laws in place that say, if you are the CEO of the company and you make this decision, and if that decision comes to some kind of lawsuit, 10 years from now, after you’ve long left the company, you should still be the one held liable. And that’s what we need to go, technically, you should be in prison. But if we can’t do that, you’re the one who’s going to pay for it out of your pocket.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. There’s, there’s another part to it. The other part is stock options. You know, we pay all these, we pay all these CEOs with stock, right? This is how they make their money. So if they can run the stock up by not having to worry about pesky law regulations.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.