COVID-19: Trump Lets Big Corporations Get Away with Whatever They Want

During the pandemic, Ralph Nader says the president has allowed a corporate crime epidemic. 

President Donald Trump arriving on Capitol Hill to attend a Senate Republican policy luncheon May 19, 2020. (White House, Tia Dufour)

By Ralph Nader
Common Dreams

Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has allowed large corporations to run rampant, exploit people, and get away with it. Trump considers himself above the law, boldly claiming, “I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.” For more information about Trump’s misdeeds, please see the Articles of Impeachment proposed by me and constitutional law experts Bruce Fein and Louis Fisher in the December 18, 2019 Congressional Record, page H 12197.

In 2017, Trump betrayed his own voters by giving the corporate rich a nearly $2 trillion tax cut instead of fulfilling his promise to invest in repairing infrastructure and expanding well-paid job opportunities.

These tax cuts for the rich and big corporations, which benefited the Trump family, ran up the deficit for our children and were largely used to give executives bonuses and let CEOs waste money on stock buybacks. In short, the corporate bosses lied to the Congress, saying they wanted these tax cuts to invest and create jobs, but actually used them to enrich themselves.

After his Trumpian giveaway, Trump crushed health and safety law enforcement, unleashing more disease-producing corporate polluters and corporate thieves. The result: harm to workers, consumers, and defenseless communities.

The New York Times reported 98 lifesaving regulations were revoked, suspended, or simply replaced with weaker versions. What remains on the books is not enforced.

Similar wreckage of corporate law-and-order has exacerbated the crisis of working people. Trump has worked to further punish student borrowers; diminish workplace and auto safety; and remove safeguards against banking, credit, and payday loan rackets.

Trump, during his failed business career and bankruptcies, saw the law as a nuisance and breaking and escaping justice as a competitive advantage.

No-Law Government

President Donald Trump celebrates passage of Tax Cuts Act with Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Dec. 20, 2017. (White House, Joyce N. Boghosian)

While raising huge sums for his reelection campaign from business lobbyists, Trump keeps giving them no-law government, more loopholes for tax escapes ($170 billion more buried in the $2.2 trillion relief/bailout legislation), more corporatist judges to shut you down in the courtroom, and more of your taxes for their endless corporate welfare greed.

Big companies such as banks, insurance companies, real estate behemoths, and Silicon Valley giants have so many tax escapes and cuts that they’re moving toward tax-exempt status.

Howard Stern, a longtime friend of Trump who promoted Trump’s notoriety early on, has recently called on Trump to resign. Stern said that, in reality, Donald Trump was “disgusted” by his own voters. Why won’t more Trump voters realize that Trump has nothing but contempt for them? Trump will betray his followers at every turn.

In 2009, an FDA microbiologist in Irvine, California, tests seafood samples for microorganisms. (FDA, Flickr)

During the Covid-19 virus pandemic — which Trump dismissed and scoffed for eight critical weeks, leaving the country defenseless — Trump has allowed a corporate crime epidemic. He has no qualms about aiding and abetting a corporate crime wave epidemic.

Trump, with congressional Republicans, wants more legislation giving big companies immunity from lawsuits by victims for their negligently harmful products and services. Another rigging of the system.

Trump’s agencies actually announced that they’re putting their law enforcers on the shelf. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) astonishingly told foreign importers of food and medicine that inspections overseas are suspended. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signaled similar retreats, as have other enforcement agencies. Why would the Trumpsters signal green lights for corporate crooks? Especially since corporate scams and other corporate crimes — some crude, others sophisticated—are exploding as trillions pour out of Washington.

A year ago, Public Citizen reported a steep decline in corporate prosecutions and fines under Trump. Now, compared to the size of the previous corporate crime wave, they’ve fallen off a cliff. You can ignore the stern warnings by Attorney General William Barr. He is a phony. He has neither allocated nor asked Congress for a budget that will provide the Department of Justice the capacity to crackdown.

In fact, Trump has fired inspectors general and not filled vacant inspectors general positions. Trump’s boasts bear repeating: Congress can’t watchdog him because “[he has] an Article 2, where [he has] the right to do whatever [he wants] as president.”

With vicious madness, Trump pushes for federal deregulation of nursing homes where residents are dying from Covid-19. He pursues court cases in attempts to end Obamacare, the result of which would be throwing 20 million Americans off of their insurance during a lethal pandemic. He is cravenly freeing corporate emitters of life-destroying mercury and coal ash in our air, condemned pesticides and toxins in drinking water, and whatever else is on the deadly wish list given to him by his corporate paymasters.

Georgia National Guard disinfects common areas of a nursing home. (George Peagler, Wikimedia Commons)

Trump’s actions that dismantled protections for all Americans families have been expertly documented. Yet, few critics are calling for his resignation or removal from office, despite the clear and present danger he poses to the American people and the Republic.

Trump is doing whatever he wants. He is getting away with abandoning the rule of law and the dismantling of crucial government institutions as he embraces American-style fascism and nepotism.

Perhaps people will learn how to effectively fight back against Trump, a delusional, flailing, ego-obsessed, foul-mouthed, self-enriching bully. The people must stand up to this corrupt politician who lies every hour and turns our government over to Wall Street.  He sacrifices the people on Main Street to enrich fat cats and oligarchs.

One person, Eugene Jarecki, offers a rebuttal to Trump. In a Washington Post op-ed, Jarecki’s sources found that “had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated and American lives saved.” According to conservative estimates from epidemiologists, “had the Trump administration simply implemented mitigation guidelines by March 9, approximately 60 percent of American Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided.” On his website,, Jarecki “displays both the number of people who have died in the country from Covid-19 and an estimate of that portion whose lives would have been saved had the president and his administration acted just one week earlier.” Jarecki has also erected a 54-foot high Trump death clock in New York City’s historic Times Square.

See the numbers yourself on Email [email protected] to see how Eugene Jarecki’s team can help you set up such an accountability clock in your community.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest books include: “To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course,” “How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress,” “Breaking Through Power: It’s easier than we think,” and “Animal Envy: A Fable.”

 The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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9 comments for “COVID-19: Trump Lets Big Corporations Get Away with Whatever They Want

  1. John DeLunke
    May 21, 2020 at 17:42

    Yes, Trump is horrible but the Democrats are no better. Who wrote the CARES Act? Who voted for it unanimously? Congress wrote into the CARES Act that they would have no oversight of how the money was spent (assigned oversight decisions to the Administration). As for COVID-19, did Trump require NY to force nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients anonymously? (so they wouldn’t be discriminated against?) Are you saying that COVID is just going to disappear over time, since if Trump had acted one week earlier then those who died would never have been exposed? (Look at Russia, they’ve had measures in place since March too, but their surge in infections occurred around a month later than in the US) Or should everyone quarantine until a cure is discovered, except those who are poor and required to keep the “essential” services running.
    Whole US system is corrupt, not just the Republican part.

    • John R
      May 22, 2020 at 10:40

      “Trump is horrible but the Democrats are no better.” So true it needs repeating. We are all losers in this fraudulent system that serves very few Americans.

  2. GMCasey
    May 21, 2020 at 16:42

    Interesting photo with Trump, McConnell, Pence and Ryan. They are 4 weapons of our mass destruction , but there is a problem with the photo: they are holding up the wrong finger.

  3. elmerfudzie
    May 21, 2020 at 16:36

    Ralph, if I lived ten lifetimes I could never have done so much for consumers and my country as you have.

    I’d like to offer a clarification rather than critique. If Trump turned out to be Gabriel the Archangel who temporarily took on human form, he could never fight corporate law or the whole filthy intricate genre that has assumed the shape of personhood, limited liability clauses and statutory protections corporate entities have. As you already know, transnationals are intricately woven into the Deep State, they tower over government authority, smothering it by corrupting officialdom(s) through buy offs, lobbyists, death threats, blackmail even murder. If there is one attribute that Trump represents, it’s his familiarity with all the invisible, naked violence behind the Wall Street white shoe boys, with their thirty five hundred dollar three piece suits. Indeed Trump has some association(s) with organized crime and I believe this relationship is close enough to prevent Intel antics such as those two attempts at killing Prez Ford. From the murder of JFK to the more recent assassination, that of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, hobnobbing with the devils very own is political savvy, not compromise and is certainly not stupidity. If I understand the undertow of Trumps message here, it’s goes something like this, them guys (corporatists) want it all, as much as they can suck out of you all but at least I’ll give you a crust of bread (his name affixed to paper COVID ckecks for 1200 bucks)

    My opine is not derived from pure conjecture. It comes with a vague understanding, a brush with Chicago’s very own Capone mob. One particular family member of mine would deliver bottles of bootlegged booze to speakeasy’s sometimes hidden inside coffins and or funeral cars. When I touched an old wooden spigot used to make the whiskey, something entered me, an understanding, of what financial suffering uneducated Joes had to go through during those prohibition days, knavish skills used just to put meat on the family table. Alas, Al Capone was the only one who could do what local government failed to do. My remark is not some blanket approval of organized crime, however I do understand where Trump has been, what it means to be ruthless, who he now hobnobs with and why.

    Since Gabbard can’t hope to set one foot into the Oval Office without crisscrossing with a bullet that already has her name on it? I’ll be carefully considering tossing in my vote for Trump.

  4. Annie
    May 21, 2020 at 14:10

    I’ve always held Ralph Nader in high regard, and still do, but Mr. Nader who do I vote for in the upcoming election? Biden, who used his position to enrich his son during a coup that supported neo nazi’s to overturn a democratically elected pro Russian government? A democratic party  also corporately owned? Will Biden really make things better, would Hilary have done so if she had  won? Do I vote for Biden who belongs to a party that has no respect for constitutional law, a party that pushed and focused on ousting Trump  from the beginning of his presidency? So far no more wars, and I’m glad about that, as I am about his recent comment on getting along with Russia. I am aware of his deregulation policies and his corporate handouts, but haven’t they all? True, Republicans are worse then Democrats at that,  but they’re catching up. From personal experience I don’t think Trump has been vicious in bringing down the quality of care in nursing homes, since in my experience,  with my mother, relatives and the parents of friends too many have been houses of horror, with very poor quality of care through multiple presidencies including Obama’s. The reality is that these patients are prone to various infections, gastroenteritis, respiratory, skin, urinary infections, as well as being more prone to pulmonary infections like the flu and covid. 19. The lax hygienic conditions in nursing homes and hospitals is a continuing, problem. The recent hospital visit I had in what is suppose to be a very good one, well, a 5 day stay and no change in bed linens, never saw an aid, and the floor was filthy. Most likely I won’t vote so I don’t disempower myself for giving it to candidates I don’t like. 

  5. Tyler Durden
    May 21, 2020 at 11:13

    Disingenuous not to call out Obama for exactly the same thing. The Great Bailout handed corporate America trillions of dollars and even worse propped up (read rewarded) the too-big-to fail banks that had crashed the global economy.

    This is simply business as usual. It is not a defense of Trump but rather a condemnation of both parties and the entire system. Encouraging people to blame one side or the other is part of the game plan (divide & conquer). As long as we are fighting each other we won’t work together to fight the system.

    • Annie
      May 21, 2020 at 14:14

      He’s called out Obama many times. Not here, but he has. – To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course

    • Michael
      May 21, 2020 at 15:14

      I agree with you. Everything in this country has become political. In a New Yorker Magazine article on April 26th the author, Charles Duhigg, reports one reason Washington faired much better than the East Coast is that the government turned Covid-19 response to the Public Health specialists and the medical community. They sidestepped the Feds, ordered supplies, and developed their own testing very early, before the president got in the way.

      That said, IMO Trump is a very special case in his stupidity and bullying behavior. I believe his administration as Mr Nader points out is culpable for criminal negligence.

    • AnneR
      May 21, 2020 at 15:50

      My thoughts exactly and not what I would have expected from Mr Nader.

      The Strumpet is the overt manifestation of what both sides, faces, of what I call the Janus party, really does. He brags, tweets about the truly corrupt, rapacious, avaricious corporate-capitalist-imperialist-warmongering nature and behavior of BOTH sides of the so-called aisle. He has lifted the curtain (not that it wasn’t already rather thin and tatty) on what both the red and blue faces actually do when in the WH and in Congress.

      Obama flooded the Banksters/Wall Street with unbelievable sums of money (which we the ordinary, working classes will have to pay for for generations) while turning his back – deliberately – on all of those families who had taken on mortgages manipulated by those Bas*****. While those families were turfed out of their homes, the Bankster/Wall Streeter crew were let off all possible criminal charges (Obama: we can’t look back; must look forward, i.e. nothing to see here) AND walked home with enormous Bonuses! Rewarded for their crimes – truly gangland style.

      Then the Blues climbed on board (eagerly?) to sign a Yes! to the Strumpet’s huge tax cuts for the top percenters; and the blues weren’t exactly behind the door when it came to signing on to that obscene, inconceivable sum for the Pentagonal-MIC last year (indeed every year).

      There is NO difference between the blues and the reds. None beyond a little lipstick “progressive diversity” stuff (which equals “divide and prevent” a real uprising).

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