NEW: Read our essay in Democracy Journal on “What Biden’s Agenda Should Be” (Jan. 13, 2022)
Corporations are making record profits from unethical or illegal practices, and many elites break laws with near-total impunity. People are angry. Yet despite documented abuses and clear lawbreaking from the most powerful firms across the economy, it seems as though nothing ever changes and no one is ever really held to account.
This environment breeds justified resentment and disillusionment with our democratic system, emotions which far-right figures are capitalizing upon to the imminent danger of the country and its people. But there has been no equal answer from the Democratic party. For many decades, federal Democrats have presented themselves as the “party of labor” while not doing enough for actual workers.
Currently, President Biden’s approval ratings are flagging. From Biden on down, Democratic Party messaging is not connecting with voters. Warnings about Trump and rising GOP authoritarianism didn’t sway voters in Virginia last fall. And the focus on “unity” and post-partisanship does not make clear who, if anyone, the president and his party stand for.
To turn its fortunes around, the administration needs an agenda that excites people — not just the base, but also independents and swingable Republicans. We believe an agenda that stresses a clear conflict between the American people and ultra-rich/corporate lawbreakers, and delivers results for ordinary people, will do just that.
In short: It’s time for a Corporate Crackdown.
Voters want to crack down on corporate crime.
A Corporate Crackdown agenda is very popular — including with independents and Republicans!
In recent polling, published in a joint report with RDP titled “Corporate Crackdown Project: Voters Want To Crack Down On Corporate Crime” (Dec. 16, 2021), the polling firm Data for Progress found the following:
- Voters agree that “Wealthy people and corporations are regularly not punished for breaking the law” (net margin +67 points) and “The criminal justice system unfairly targets poor people over rich people” (net +48 points).
- Voters of all stripes disapprove of Wall Street bankers (-36 net favorability) and pharmaceutical companies (-16).
- 83 percent of voters of all parties believe regular Americans pay the price when the crimes of wealthy people and corporations go unpunished.
- By a +79-point margin, voters across party lines agree that failing to hold wealthy and corporate criminals accountable harms public trust in government and the rule of law.
- 70 percent of respondents across party lines agree the Biden administration should be doing more to crack down on corporate crime.
- 77 percent of voters across party lines agree that CEOs of companies that commit criminal acts should face legal penalties, including possible jail time.
- Voters hold favorable views of agencies with power to rein in corporate crime, including:
- Department of Justice (DOJ) (+14 points)
- Department of Labor (DOL) (+29 points overall, +8 among Republicans)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (63% approval, including 52% of Republicans).
The Administration can take enforcement action now, using its existing authority, without new laws from Congress.
New legislation is unlikely to move for much of 2022, especially legislation that challenges the ultrarich forces corroding our politics. New regulations, while indispensable, are slow to write and vulnerable to court challenges. Given that reality, bold and highly public enforcement of existing anti-white-collar crime law is the best way to deliver immediate, visible results that show ordinary people what Democrats do for them.
Potential Corporate Crackdown enforcement actions could include:
- Cracking down on the cottage industry of union-busting legal consultants employed by many of the most abusive firms;
- Prosecuting Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for rampant fraud;
- Indicting ex-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg for the hundreds of deaths in the 737 MAX tragedy that occurred on his watch;
- Put financial penalties on hospitals that don’t fully comply with federal rules requiring them to disclose health care prices.
- Use the Federal Maritime Commission to enforce maritime laws in the shipping sector, combating price-gouging and restoring sanity to the supply chain.
- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to more strongly enforce clean water laws.
Biden and his appointees should also do more to inform the public about what they’re doing about corporate power, and point out (rightly) that Republicans, who are bought and paid for by corporate interests, did not and will not do the same.
Read our essay in Democracy Journal, “What Biden’s Agenda Should Be” (Jan. 13, 2022)
What’s next from the Revolving Door Project:
Our twice-a-month Corporate Crackdown Updates newsletter highlights examples of corporate and elite lawbreaking that the Biden administration can take action against right now, delivering wins for the American people. Check out past editions, and contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
Our past and future issue-area reports lay out the federal powers at the Administration’s disposal to crack down on illicit behavior in areas such as shipping, transportation, labor, climate and more.
Follow us on Twitter and follow #CorporateCrackdown for updates every weekday on what the administration is and isn’t doing to bring C-Suites and white-collar criminals across the country to heel.
Check out our body of work on the Corporate Crackdown Project below!
September 29, 2023
The forces that stand to benefit most from a Republican-imposed government shutdown are corporate miscreants—a fact that President Joe Biden and his Democratic surrogates should point out.
September 29, 2023
Joe Biden must be direct with voters and tell them that the worst actors in corporate America are the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican shutdown.
September 27, 2023 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter
Corporate greed and emaciated federal regulatory capacity means people are needlessly suffering physically, and sometimes even dying. That’s the upshot of two recent reports from the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). These reports illustrate the concerning state of environmental regulation and enforcement in regards to water quality and refinery emissions.
September 06, 2023
RELEASE: As the Hydrogen Industry Vies for Tens of Billions of Federal Dollars, Lax Oversight and Entrenched Fossil Fuel Ties Raise Red Flags
The Revolving Door Project released a new Industry Agenda report today examining the executive branch influence agenda of the rapidly growing “clean” hydrogen industry, which is poised to receive tens of billions of dollars under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
August 23, 2023
DOJ’s penalty for Booz Allen Hamilton ripping off the government is tens of millions less than a whistleblower thinks the company stole.
August 04, 2023
We Need to Be Direct About Corporations’ Actions & Incentives
July 19, 2023
Measuring the impact of regulations and enforcement actions can be difficult, particularly as the benefits of such actions can take years to accrue. On the other hand, it’s often possible to observe the consequences of lax or nonexistent enforcement playing out in real time.
June 07, 2023
Corporate wrongdoing doesn’t always resemble the stories that tend to make headlines—the dramatic corruption scandals, bald-faced lies, and egregious instances of fraud. Sometimes, as we at Revolving Door Project strive to highlight, life-threatening corporate actions are enabled by quiet bureaucratic processes and decisions, ushered along by captured political appointees who refuse to hold profit-hungry corporations accountable.
April 20, 2023 | The American Prospect
As the revelations of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s flagrant corruption continue to unspool, scrutiny of the weak ethics rules binding the Court has intensified. The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to oversee the Court, but it has proven itself not remotely up to the task of rooting out judicial corruption. And amid this disturbing situation, a Supreme Court conference this Friday provides an opening for Court conservatives to try to game their few ethical limits in plain sight.
April 12, 2023 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter
What is it called when one of the nine most powerful judges in the U.S.—a man whose title is literally Justice—has routinely accepted secret private jet rides and luxury yacht vacations from a billionaire right-wing mega-donor for over two decades? What does it mean that this was not disclosed, in violation of the Ethics in Government Act? If the ruling class wants the public to believe that the rule of law means anything to them, then the answer must be “breaking the law,” necessitating investigations, trials, and professional consequences.
April 03, 2023 | The American Prospect
If we at the Revolving Door Project could exhort the Biden administration to do anything, it would be this: Choose the right enemies—rich, powerful corporations that harm the public, most often with impunity. Sometimes you will lose, but that doesn’t mean you should forfeit the fight. And getting caught trying can inspire the public to rally around a political party and its leaders.
March 01, 2023 | The American Prospect
A 38-car train wreck. Toxic chemicals seeping into water and soil, and a black plume rising in the sky. Sick people, sick pets. As the Prospect’s Jarod Facundo wrote last week, the national spotlight remains fixed on the ecological consequences of the February 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio.
In the context of this ecological disaster, arguing for a reduced budget for federal investigators, air and water quality testing, and programs that hold polluting corporations accountable for proper cleanup and restitution is sheer madness. But that’s exactly what the current right-wing push for massive government spending cuts in the name of deficit reduction would entail.
February 08, 2023 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter
Since the early days of the pandemic, the federal government has been pre-purchasing Covid vaccines at an average cost of around $20 per dose (around $29 per dose for the bivalent boosters) to ensure public access to vaccination at no cost. However, with Congress no longer willing to fund Covid treatment, the Biden administration has indicated that it intends to end the Covid public health emergency in May, and more or less hand over control of Covid prevention to the healthcare industry.