Robber Barons in the Modern Era
Politics and Activism

Robber Barons in the Modern Era

Blocking Legislation at Every Turn


Modern robber barons have invaded every aspect of policy creation in Washington. These robber barons flooded politics with massive amounts of money, creating a culture of cooperation between politicians and corporate to keep the cash flowing. With the pending inauguration of Donald Trump as US President, robber barons have succeeded in the most lucrative way, by installing one of their own into the most powerful position on the planet. The Trump administration has yet to start, however on the basis of his hundred-day plan, the United States will experience one of its largest regulatory rollbacks in history and a massive increase in deficit spending.

Hacker and Pierson in American Amnesia outline a dangerous trend of extreme amounts of cash being used to lobby against any type of reform in Congress. At first, powerful members of the finance, healthcare and fossil fuel directly funnel money into Congress to block legislation, after taking significant pressure from the general populace in favor of reform, they developed lobby groups of which they can generously fund and not be susceptible to outright backlash.

According to Hacker and Pierson "The biggest of the barons don’t need public dollars or the slightly more hidden giveaways of federal loans. They just need the federal government to let them impose tolls on American society. They don’t have to ply Washington for visible handouts. They just have to keep Washington in knots. The costs they impose then, are not economic. In undermining essential public authority, they threaten effective democratic governance itself."

As opposition grows, corporations seeking to protect their interests find allies in the increasingly polarized Congress. As Democrats have been in control for the past eight years, these robber barons have cemented ties with the obstructionist Republican party. Corporations have been able to essentially buy Senate filibusters, eliminating the possibility of reform as the Democrats don’t have enough support to override the filibuster especially now after failing to regain enough seats in the senate to break the Republican majority. A few million funneled into lobbying against climate science, financial market reform and limiting drug pricing is a drop in the bucket compared to the short term losses of the shareholder minded corporations. Unfortunately, long term business administration has fallen out of favor in the Wall Street business economy.

Under the Trump administration these businesses may switch sides to funding the Democratic party if the Republicans shift their obstructionist ideals towards business friendly initiatives although the only possibility of that would be a large break between Donald Trump and the legislature. Reforming politics under a Trump presidency will result in a massive decrease in regulation across the board. Good or bad, outdated or brand new, all are on the chopping block. The biggest detriment to our economy will be the loss of environmental protections and financial sector protections from markets that are already deregulated.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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