This piece is an update to a column released earlier this year.
Every economy has rules of the road that help determine who benefits and who does not. Through its regulatory and lawmaking powers, the federal government has the ability to set those rules. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has used this power to further bias the system against everyday Americans, making it that much harder for them to get ahead. Since coming to office, the administration has attacked commonsense regulations that ensure that workers get paid for the hours they work; that their retirement is secure; and that the costs of the goods upon which they rely are affordable.
First, it abandoned an Obama-era rule to raise the salary threshold for overtime pay eligibility, instead proposing a watered-down rule that provides significantly fewer protections and would cost workers a projected $1.2 billion a year in lower wages. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that President Donald Trump’s proposed overtime rule would cover 8.2 million fewer workers in 2020 than the 2016 Obama protections—a gap that would grow to 11.5 million workers in 10 years. Trump also abandoned a rule that protects retirees from being cheated by financial advisers, a problem that costs people $17 billion in retirement savings per year; he is seeking to replace it with a rule that offers few protections and would amount to little more than window dressing. Finally, the Trump administration is looking to weaken standards governing fuel efficiency and climate pollution, which means that American families could spend a net $23.8 billion more every year, largely due to higher spending on gas.
All told, President Trump’s attacks on regulations that ensure workers are paid overtime; protect retirees from unscrupulous financial advisers; and ensure that people pay less at the pump could cost Americans up to almost $42 billion per year. (see Table 1)*
Sam Berger is the vice president for Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress. Malkie Wall is a research assistant for Economic Policy at the Center.
*Authors’ note: Table 1 presents updated overtime numbers based on new EPI calculations.