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May 23, 2017 by Matt Shudtz

The Depraved Indifference of Hollow Government

From the safety of Air Force One en route from Tel Aviv to Rome, President Trump dropped his FY 2018 budget on Washington, D.C., and sent OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to run point on the ground. They like to talk about it as a "hard power" budget. What they don't like to talk about are the consequences of unleashing such firepower on the American public.

Make no mistake about it, this budget is the realization of several decades' travail by small-government conservatives. As Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, famously put it, they want to shrink the federal government to the size that they can drown it in a bathtub. So when you hear President Trump and his surrogates pivot from "hard power" to expressing their heartfelt concerns for taxpayers first, think about where that idea comes from. Their messaging is rooted not in a concern for taxpayers as people who need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, safe jobs and good schools, or social safety nets to help them out in hard times. No, their messaging is rooted in the abstraction of personal financial wealth untethered from the social compact upon which our …

April 10, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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Thank goodness for state-level policymakers who are resisting the Trump administration's extreme policies. Attorneys general from around the nation are making headlines by fighting Trump's discriminatory immigration ban. Governors from both major political parties stood up to the attempt to strip away health care from millions of hard-working Americans and their children. And mayors and law enforcement officials are lifting up undocumented residents and recognizing their many contributions to our society, rather than assisting in the indiscriminate roundups Trump has demanded.

These headline-grabbing acts of resistance are helping to preserve core values of our society from an administration that seems to have no recognizable guiding principles. Meanwhile, quietly and in great number across the country, state and local policymakers are taking other steps to Trump-proof the institutions that form the backbone of our civil society.

Shining a light on some examples of these small acts …

March 16, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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As part of a coalition of public interest organizations working toward a responsible federal budget that protects people and the planet, I released the following statement on President Trump's reckless budget proposal that guts the EPA, eliminates federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, and more. 

"The president's 'skinny budget' is a particularly apt description for a proposal that would leave crucial protector agencies too emaciated to safeguard our health, safety and environment. Whether it's pipeline inspectors to protect our land and water from oil spills, or workplace safety inspectors to ensure our family members return home safely from their jobs, or environmental inspectors to prevent air pollution and toxic chemical disasters, many agencies simply don't have sufficient resources to conduct the level of enforcement needed to safeguard all Americans. Slashing their budgets even further would be the height of irresponsibility, and …

Jan. 31, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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As long as Donald Trump is in the White House, progressives should harbor no delusions that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going to be a wool-socks-in-Birkenstocks tree hugger. Scott Pruitt is certainly no such individual. But nor is he a person with the experience, depth of understanding of the agency’s programs, or temperament to run the agency.

The job of EPA Administrator under President Trump will surely prove to be the most thankless cabinet-level job. Trump has consistently slammed the agency as being a hindrance to business development and promised to curtail its power. Meanwhile, the leader of Trump’s EPA transition team has been envisioning a future in which the agency operates with resources and staffing levels that have not been seen since the Nixon administration.

Yet over on Capitol Hill, you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to …

Nov. 21, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Hazy as they may be, we are all looking into our crystal balls, trying to envision what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for the world around us. The first glimpses we have of the future – Steve Bannon at Trump's right hand, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor – project something much darker and more insular than befits a nation whose arc of history is as progressive as ours. Of course, that arc is long and there have been many setbacks and struggles along the way. A Trump presidency will test us. Since November 8, I've witnessed family and friends, allies and colleagues vacillate between moments of despair and moments of inspired energy.

At CPR, we have set out to channel that tension and turn it into something useful. Beginning tomorrow with a post from Tom McGarity, CPR Member Scholars and …

Nov. 10, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Where do we stand now that the election is over and the presidential transition is beginning? That's a common question these days. Those of us striving in the public interest had come to expect progress, and now that expectation has been dashed. For eight years, President Obama and his team of dedicated public servants did something remarkable. With their deep appreciation and respect for our system of government, they created conditions ripe for a vigorous and uplifting debate about the public policies that shape our lives. Now we are left to wonder if those conditions will endure.

Public interest advocates from countless walks of life had settled into a groove over the last eight years. Progress on environmental protection, public health, workers’ rights, civil rights, criminal justice, and many other fronts was never as fast as we would have liked, but we knew that if we …

July 29, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Pilgrim's Pride, one of the world's largest poultry processors, with more than a dozen serious workplace health and safety violations. CPR Executive Director Matthew Shudtz issued the following statement today: 

Credit OSHA for pushing the envelope. The poultry slaughter industry loves to tout its declining injury rates, but outside experts have many reasons to believe the industry's cooking its books. This isn't the first time OSHA's investigators have uncovered the sophisticated sabotage of worker protections. That's why it is so important for OSHA's lawyers to carry this case through and hold Pilgrim's Pride accountable. Make no mistake, the rest of the industry is watching.

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The Center for Progressive Reform is a nonprofit research and educational organization with a network of Member Scholars working to protect health, safety, and …

May 25, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Are you interested in ensuring that communities impacted by climate change can effectively adapt to changing conditions and that vulnerable populations will be protected and treated fairly in the process? Do you have a background in the legal and policy issues related to both clean water and climate change adaptation? If so, you should consider applying for the new climate change adaptation policy analyst position at the Center for Progressive Reform

The focus of this position is climate change adaptation, with special emphasis on environmental justice and the implications of climate change for the Chesapeake Bay. The analyst will join a small team of professional staff and a network of top-notch Member Scholars who are examining these issues and are looking to turn policy into action. Among other things, the analyst will: 

  • Research and promote best practices for adapting to climate change, with special emphasis on protecting …

April 28, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Today, a lot of numbers will be thrown around – the staggering number of workers who died gruesome deaths on the job last year, the paltry fines that employers responsible for those deaths paid, the months and years we've waited for Congress to revisit the Occupational Safety and Health Act to make it more relevant to our modern workforce.

There's good reason to reflect on those numbers. They tell us something important about our society and our relationship to work. They tell us that we have a long way to go before the real value of workers' time, effort, and dedication to their jobs is respected and honored.

40,000 Verizon workers are on strike. The contract dispute is complicated, but one of the core issues is the company's threat to move jobs from one location to another, like so many interchangeable, faceless component parts …

March 24, 2016 by Matt Shudtz
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Decades in the making, OSHA’s new silica rule will better protect millions of workers from a highly toxic, cancer-causing substance that has killed thousands while the rule slowly worked its way through the regulatory gauntlet, administration after administration. Today, in quarries, foundries, building sites, and kitchen rehab jobs across the country, workers can look forward to breathing cleaner air.

But today’s announcement is far from the end of the story. Next comes the inevitable litigation. Following their tired playbook, special interest groups will beg a court to put a hold on the rule, hoping to delay or undo it. Workers have waited long enough for this rule. It is high time industry made an investment in the future by establishing the protections this rule requires. Investing now in tools and policies to better protect workers will save hundreds of lives every year. That’s not …

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