Justin Miller

Justin Miller is a former Prospect writing fellow and is currently covering politics for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

Good Riddance, Sam Brownback

The governor may be (finally) leaving Kansas, but his trickle-down legacy has saddled us all. 

(Gage Skidmore) Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. trickle-downers_35.jpg U ltimately, it was Mike Pence who bailed Kansas out from its economic disaster. The vice president had to cast two tie-breaking votes in the Senate Wednesday to get Sam Brownback, his fellow conservative evangelical and GOP right-winger, confirmed as President Trump’s ambassador at-large for religious freedom—a position Brownback was nominated for nearly a year ago. Brownback has now officially announced that he’s resigning his position as Kansas governor next Thursday. The former U.S. senator was first elected governor in 2010, spearheading the Tea Party backlash against Barack Obama. He promptly turned his own state into a Petri dish for radical trickle-down economics , promising it would prompt a “shot of adrenaline” into the Kansas economy. The reckless cuts to income and business taxes didn’t work, as I...

Mick Mulvaney Leads the Race for Worst Cabinet Official

(Gage Skidmore)

 

Mick Mulvaney has been busy—and for those who believe that the federal government can improve Americans’ lives, that’s not a good thing. 

Mulvaney, who is both President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, introduces himself to others as a right-wing nutjob. And as a South Carolina representative and founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Mulvaney led the far right’s shutdown threats to obtain spending cuts during the Obama presidency. 

In a Trumpian twist of fate, OMB Director Mulvaney found himself in charge of shutting down the government last week, a task he found “kind of cool.” He then proceeded to go on CNN and call Democratic senators’ decision to vote against a continuing resolution because there were no Dreamer protections “pure politics.” This coming from the man who very nearly killed a $50.7 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package by insisting on dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. 

Now that the government is back open, Mulvaney has gotten back to his work of turning the CFPB—which was created through Dodd-Frank as a Wall Street watchdog—into a toothless industry lapdog focused more on deregulating predatory lenders than on consumer protection. 

ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger obtained a memo Mulvaney sent to CFPB staff outlining his new vision for the agency. In short, he rebuked his predecessor Richard Cordray’s approach to regulation in which, as Mulvaney puts it, the CFPB staffers are the “good guys” out to fight the “bad guys” on Wall Street.

As he wrote: 

We are government employees. We don’t just work for the government, we work for the people. And that means everyone: those who use credit cards, and those who provide those cards; those who take loans, and those who make them; those who buy cars, and those who sell them. All of those people are part of what makes this country great, and all of them deserve to be treated fairly by their government. There is a reason that Lady Justice wears a blindfold and carries a balance, along with her sword. 

In Mulvaney’s eyes, Wall Street bankers and your average consumer are on an entirely equal playing field. 

Since taking over the agency in November (and winning a legal battle for the post), Mulvaney has literally rewritten the agency’s mission as one that protects Americans from “burdensome regulations” and stocked it full with Trump and Wall Street loyalists.  

Under Mulvaney, the agency’s regulatory and enforcement work has ground to a halt. As one of payday lenders’ biggest allies in Congress, Mulvaney is now easing off the industry. He said he will “reconsider” one of Cordray’s hallmark rules that aimed to root out predatory practices in the industry. In just the past week, Mulvaney dropped a CFPB lawsuit against four payday lenders in Kansas and, according to a report from the International Business Times, closed an investigation into a South Carolina payday lender that contributed to his congressional campaigns. 

As both the head of the OMB and the CFPB, Mulvaney is leading Trump’s deregulatory crusade, vying to dismantle the very industry regulations that protect workers and consumers from unscrupulous and profit-hungry corporations. 

The contest for Trump’s worst cabinet official is a close one, but Mulvaney is at the front of the pack. 

One Year Later, Trump’s Promise to American Steel Workers Is Unfulfilled

With a deadline looming, pressure mounts on the president to make good on his campaign promise to curb Chinese steel dumping. 

(Photo: AP/John Minchillo) Workers listen as Ivanka Trump, daughter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, attends a round-table discussion with local businesswomen after touring Middletown Tube Works, a welded steel tube supplier, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Middletown, Ohio. A s a presidential candidate, Donald Trump upended the GOP’s traditional free-market talking points on trade and promised to implement a bold new trade agenda that put the American manufacturing industry—and its workers—first. His tough trade talk likely helped him win the presidency by breaking through the Democrats’ “blue wall” to capture states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which for years have been crippled by manufacturing plant closures, slowdowns, and resultant pink slips. One year into his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to follow through on one of those core campaign promises: to crack down on China’s dumping of steel into the United States, which has devastated the...

For Banks, Double the Trickle-Down Delight

Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation are a bonanza for Wall Street.

(Sipa USA via AP) Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., speaks at an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, D.C., on September 12, 2016. trickle-downers.jpg C itigroup, one the country’s four mega-banks, is taking a $22 billion loss from President Trump’s tax plan. But the banking giant is not worried. In fact, its stock ticked up and its top executives are elated. That’s because the loss is a mere blip on the radar—a one-time cost for bringing back profits stashed overseas. The real bonanza is on the horizon. “Tax reform not only leads to higher net income and increased returns but also serves to strengthen our capital-generation capabilities going forward," CEO Michael Corbat pronounced . Citigroup is not the only bank projecting an even rosier future. As The New York Times reported , the country’s financial institutions are perhaps the biggest winners of all. JP Morgan Chase (the biggest bank behemoth of them all) and Wells Fargo both expect to pay...

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