Tax Cuts for the Companies That Deserve It

 U.S. companies are  on track to see dramatic reductions in their tax rates, thanks to the $1.5 trillion tax cut package passed by the GOP-led Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in late 2017.

Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that shareholders, not U.S. workers, will reap the biggest benefits from the Trump tax cuts, despite a handful of companies that have handed out “Trump bonuses” and pledged to pay their workers more.

If we really want companies to do right by their workers, we need stronger incentives. One way to do this is to establish a preferential tax rate for companies that organize themselves as “benefit corporations,” a new legal structure that allows corporations to pursue missions other than just profit.

Continue reading at Progressive Policy Institute.

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For homeless youth, statistics and reality are miles apart

Via TalkPoverty.org

At the headquarters of Covenant House Washington in Southeast D.C., a nonprofit serving youth experiencing homelessness, ten twin-sized black canvas cots fill a white-tiled alcove on the main floor. The space serves as an emergency shelter for homeless young people, which Covenant House calls “The Sanctuary.” In keeping with its name, the walls are a deep, soothing blue.

Five of the cots are for women and five for men, which is far short of the demand. The room is empty now, in mid-afternoon, but by 6:00 p.m., when the shelter opens, young people will be lining up for a chance to snag a few square feet of space for the evening, and maybe a shower and a hot meal.

“We turn away at least 8 youth per night,” says Madye Henson, Covenant House Washington’s chief executive officer.

Henson has added extra beds for hypothermia season and is planning a permanent expansion to 20 beds this year. In combination with its other programs, that would bring Covenant House’s total emergency shelter capacity to 77, making it the city’s largest provider of emergency shelter for homeless youth. But compared with the D.C. General Family Shelter for families with children, with 264 beds, Covenant House is still tiny.

The shortage of shelter beds for homeless youth is endemic across the country. Youth homelessness has been a low priority for federal funding and largely an afterthought in communities’ efforts to fight homelessness. Instead, young adults have been thrown into the system for chronically homeless adults, despite their very different needs and the dangers they face in adult shelters.

Continue reading at TalkPoverty.org

The Dialysis Machine

Via Washington Monthly

On a sunny August day, an elderly, fragile-looking black man sits slumped in a wheelchair, eyes closed, outside the doors of a DaVita Dialysis center. The business takes up the corner of a run-down strip mall in Southeast D.C., in a heavily black neighborhood across the river from the Capitol. It’s next door to a liquor store and steps away from an ACE Cash Express check-cashing outlet, a barbershop, and a takeout place. A big sign on the glass warns visitors that firearms are not allowed inside. A handicapped-accessible public bus waits in the parking lot to take other patients home.

It’s midafternoon, but the shopping center is buzzing with knots of people hanging out by the takeout and the barbershop. Everybody seems to know someone on dialysis. One man in a barber’s smock out for a cigarette break says he had a friend who died at a dialysis center. He says ambulances are a constant presence at the DaVita clinic. It’s not unusual for people to die on dialysis: nationally, about one-fourth of patients die in the first year, and six in ten will be dead within five years.

As many as thirty million Americans have chronic kidney disease. If you’re one of them, and you’re white, well educated, and middle class or higher, odds are you’ll get the kind of medical care that will save your kidneys. You likely have private health insurance and get regular checkups. You probably caught your condition early and are taking medication to slow down the disease’s progression.

But if you are poor, less educated, and black, the odds are much greater that your disease will run unchecked and your kidneys will eventually fail. According to the National Institutes of Health, black people are nearly four times as likely to suffer kidney failure as whites. Then you will likely end up on dialysis, spending three days a week, four hours at a time, at a place like this one, as your blood is pumped out of your body, filtered, and pumped back in.

Farther down the sidewalk, waiting for her daughter at the takeout, is Sharon C., a soft-spoken sixty-two-year-old black woman in a sleeveless white dress and Jackie O sunglasses who doesn’t want to give her full name. She sits in a wheelchair, her left foot and ankle grotesquely swollen, the result of poor circulation caused by the diabetes she was diagnosed with in 2005.

Sharon goes to a different DaVita center for dialysis, one near Capitol Hill, where she spends every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. “You can’t miss a treatment,” she says. “You can’t go anywhere.” She says she only got on dialysis two months earlier, when her one functioning kidney finally failed. She is not on the wait list for a transplant. “I need to find a donor,” she says, echoing what patient advocates say is a common misperception among dialysis patients: that you can’t get a transplant unless you find a donor for yourself. “I don’t want to be like this.”

The most tragic consequence of a system that incentivizes keeping people, especially poor people and minorities, on dialysis is that it also keeps them from getting what is beyond doubt the best treatment for kidney failure: a transplant.

Of the 661,000 Americans with kidney failure, about 468,000 people—more than a third of whom are black—are on dialysis. In the District of Columbia, where the prevalence of kidney failure is the highest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there are twenty-three dialysis centers, mostly in Northeast and Southeast Washington, the predominantly black parts of the city that are also ground zero for diabetes and high blood pressure, the two conditions most linked to kidney disease. Another 100 dialysis centers are within a twenty-five-mile radius of the city, again concentrated in the suburbs with the largest minority and low-income populations. In District Heights, Maryland, a DaVita center dominates the busy intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Silver Hill Road. In a strip mall just across the street is a clinic run by U.S. Renal Care.

Like check-cashing outlets and payday lenders, dialysis centers—the vast majority of which are for-profit, like DaVita and U.S. Renal Care—are now fixtures in the urban commercial landscape. “We used to say there’s a liquor store on every corner,” said Clive Callender, a transplant surgeon and professor of surgery at Howard University. “Now we say there’s a dialysis unit on every corner.”

The prevalence of dialysis centers in minority neighborhoods is a reflection of policy failures that encourage—indeed institutionalize—class and racial disparities in American health care. These failures include more than just disparate access to the primary and preventive services that could help high-risk patients stave off kidney disease. Public policy effectively steers low-income and minority patients with kidney disease toward dialysis and away from superior options, particularly transplants.

Everyone with kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease, is covered by Medicare. And Medicare guarantees payment for every dialysis session. As a result, the treatment of kidney failure is a volume-centered business aimed at keeping dialysis centers running. “You fill up a facility with so many stations, you make sure somebody is sitting in each of those chairs around the clock,” said Dennis Cotter, president of the Medical Technology and Practice Patterns Institute. “It’s the Henry Ford production model.”

This system creates an incentive for clinics to keep patients on dialysis until they die.

Continued at the Washington Monthly

One of These Governors Could Save Democrats in 2020

Via the American Interest

Under a clear blue sky in late summer, with the peaks of the Gallatin Mountains as a backdrop, Montana Governor Steve Bullock mingles with guests at a private event on a ranch just outside Bozeman. Holding a plate piled high with barbecue, Bullock is half a head taller than most of the people here. He is genial and relaxed, in jeans and battered brown shoes. His nametag reads, “Governor Steve.”

A young mother brings over two little girls in flowered sundresses, and Bullock immediately drops down to eye level. A few minutes later, the girls leave with their mother, smiles on their faces, their votes no doubt locked up for 15 years hence when the girls will be old enough to cast a ballot. In half the conversations that swirl around Bullock, there are joking references to 2020 and hints about the Governor’s ambitions. It’s an open secret here that the Bullock might be running for President.

Just this past fall, Bullock won re-election over GOP challenger billionaire Greg Gianforte by four percentage points—50 percent to 46 percent—in a state where only 35 percent of voters chose Democrat Hillary Clinton for President and Donald Trump won by 20 points. That victory is Bullock’s calling card into the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, along with the prairie populist credentials he has burnished. As the state’s Attorney General, he endeared himself to sportsmen by authoring a state opinion guaranteeing access to public lands. He also took on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, defending the state’s ban on corporate spending (he lost when the Court reaffirmed its decision).

But Bullock is not the only Democratic Governor with an eye on 2020. No fewer than five Governors (out of a field of only 15 Democratic Governors nationwide) are rumored to be or talked about as serious potential presidential contenders. Many of these, like Bullock, are governing in states that voted for Trump, or where the legislatures are controlled by Republicans, or both. And many, like Bullock, claim a pragmatic approach to policy that’s intentionally difficult to pigeonhole—by turns progressive, populist, and libertarian.

These governors join what is seemingly already a cast of thousands vying for the chance to take down Trump. In addition to liberal senatorial heavyweights Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, none of whom have (yet) officially revealed their intentions, there is a raft of younger Senators, House members, rising-star big-city Mayors, and an assortment of CEOs and celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (though revelations of Facebook’s pre-election ad sales to the Russians might sink that candidacy before it begins).

But of all of these, a Governor might have the best shot at actually winning. Why is that? The simple answer is that Governors are not inherently Washington swamp creatures, and that’s what the Democrats need to fracture Trump’s stubbornly loyal coalition.

Read more at The American Interest.

The Push for College Endowment Reform

Liberals and conservatives alike are taking action against inequalities in higher-education finances

Via The Atlantic and Washington Monthly

In 2015, a New York Times op-ed observed that Yale University had spent $480 million that year on fees for hedge-fund managers to grow the university’s already massive endowment—while spending just $170 million on tuition assistance and fellowships for its students.

“We’ve lost sight of the idea that students, not fund managers, should be the primary beneficiaries of a university’s endowment,” wrote the law professor Victor Fleischer, whose 2006 proposal to change the tax treatment of “carried interest” became a liberal cause célèbre. “The private-equity folks get cash; students take out loans.”

Though Fleischer’s screed was not the first to attack elite-college endowments—the progressive commentator and former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich has also railed against them—it presaged a wave of criticism that has since become a storm. Shortly after Fleischer’s op-ed was published, the New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell grabbed the baton, launching what’s become an ongoing, high-profile crusade against fat-cat university fundraising. In 2016, he dedicated an entire podcast to the absurdity of billionaires donating millions in endowment dollars to schools that don’t need the money, and later waged a very public war against Stanford University for its fundraising appeals to alumni. “If Stanford, with $22 billion in the bank, still has needy undergraduates, how are they spending the billions they ALREADY have?” he tweeted in February.

It’s not just liberals like Gladwell who are outraged. The GOP-led Congress has held at least two separate hearings examining the taxpayer subsidies that support endowments, which are now potentially under scrutiny as part of tax reform (assuming Congress gets there). Even Donald Trump has weighed in. “Many universities spend more on private equity-fund managers than on tuition programs,” the then-presidential candidate last September, channeling Fleischer’s critique.

Observers of higher education have long known about the cash the nation’s elite schools have been accumulating, as well as the glaring inequality between these schools and their less-affluent kin. According to a 2016 analysisby the Education Trust, a nonprofit group that advocates for closing the achievement gap, 75 percent of the nation’s total college-endowment wealth was held by less than 4 percent of phenomenally wealthy schools as of 2013.

Continue reading at The Atlantic

The road to a stable job – without crippling debt

A novel grant program in Virginia is helping workers earn career-boosting occupational credentials.

Via Washington Monthly

It’s 6:45 a.m. during the height of summer construction season, and the asphalt plant at Cedar Mountain Stone Corporation in Mitchells, Virginia, has been buzzing with activity since before dawn. Thousands of pounds of crushed rock are moving along conveyor belts to be mixed with hot liquid asphalt in a gigantic drum, while trucks line up under a massive chute to take the finished asphalt away.

The company’s nearby quarry has been running 24/7, mining 8,000 tons a day of the high-quality granite for which this part of central Virginia is known. Some of this rock will end up cut and polished for people’s kitchen countertops, or lining streams and roadbeds, but much of it will end up in Cedar Mountain Stone’s asphalt plant, processed into blacktop for the thousands of miles of roads and highways that crisscross the state.

Making that asphalt is the job of Allen Miller, one of 11 apprentices at Cedar Mountain Stone. Like any good brew, good asphalt is hard to make. “We have to have certain gradations of stone, the right amount of dust, and not too much asphalt binder in it,” said Ed Dalrymple, Miller’s boss and the fourth-generation owner of Cedar Mountain Stone. “If we have all of that in the right proportions, the road’s going to last.”

Under the tutelage of a mentor at the company, Miller spends his days learning how to operate, fix and maintain the asphalt plant that is the lifeblood of the company; how to formulate asphalt so that it can withstand 20 years of freezes, thaws and the weight of thousands of tractor-trailers every day, and how to test it so that the quality of the state’s roadways passes the standards of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Under VDOT’s pay-for-performance requirements, well-built roads earn a bonus, while inferior blacktop will cost the company penalties. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are potentially at stake, which means Dalrymple is counting on Miller to do his job right. On any given day, Miller is out drilling core samples from freshly laid road beds, watching the computerized control panels monitoring the moisture levels of asphalt being mixed at the plant, or taking 20-pound samples of asphalt to the company’s on-site laboratory for analysis.

iller is 31 years old and has been at Cedar Mountain Stone for about 16 months, working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later every day. In the evenings, he goes to classes at Germanna Community College in nearby Fredericksburg for specialized classes in “asphalt technology” that are part of his apprenticeship. “It makes for some very long days,” he said.

But if he sticks it out, Miller will finish his apprenticeship with a journeyman’s license in industrial maintenance; multiple certifications in “asphalt technology” from the Virginia Asphalt Association, which will help him land jobs anywhere in the industry—and four years of work experience. Though he makes just $35,000 a year as an apprentice, his salary could jump to near six figures once he finishes his training.

Best of all, Miller will have no school debt. Cedar Mountain Stone is paying for the cost of Miller’s coursework at Germanna with the help of the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant, which Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched in 2016 with bipartisan legislative support.  It’s the first program in the country to help pay for non-college-credit occupational credentials, says Sara Dunnigan, executive director of Virginia’s Board of Workforce Development. While other states are focused on “free college” or “free community college,” Virginia is the first to focus on free (or near-free) credentials.

Already, the state is seeing benefits. Workers like Miller are getting affordable access to industry-recognized occupational credentials that can boost their careers, while local industries are getting the trained workers they need. In the first year of the program, the program helped 2,173 Virginians earn workplace credentials.

Under the new program, which will cost $20 million over two years, the state picks up two-thirds of the cost of acquiring non-degree workplace credentials, such as the asphalt technology certifications Miller will receive, as well as commercial drivers’ licenses, IT certifications and other industry-recognized certificates, certifications and licenses from a list approved by the state. Students pay one-third of costs to ensure they have “skin in the game,” and training programs only get their grant monies if students complete their coursework and pass the licensing or other exams necessary to receive their credential.

While Miller’s apprenticeship is a multi-year commitment, many credentialing programs typically require only a few months of training and a few thousand dollars. But they can still translate into a huge boost in wages. An entry-level IT worker with CompTIA “A+” certification, for example, can expect to earn $18 to $25 an hour. Certified welders can earn as much as $62,100 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the highest-paid electricians can make as much as $90,420. Many of the credentials on the state’s approved list involve so-called “middle skill” jobs, which require specialized training but no college degree. According to the National Skills Coalition, as many as 53 percent of all U.S. jobs fit into this category in 2015.

Continued at the Washington Monthly

 

Why Democrats should dump “free college”

When congressional Democrats recently rolled out a new economic policy agenda aimed at staking out a new, populist-leaning course for the Democratic Party—dubbed “A Better Deal”—one idea was conspicuously missing: free college.

As the signature idea of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose populist presidential campaign nearly upended the Democratic primary in 2016, “free college” would seem a natural fit for Democrats’ first post-election platform—both as a hat tip to the millions of younger progressives energized by Sanders’s candidacy, and as a rallying point in the fight against inequality. Instead, “A Better Deal” called for what some liberals consider thin gruel: more apprenticeships and employer incentives to invest in workers’ skills.

The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel, for example, argues the focus on skills “does nothing to address the fundamental unfairness that plagues the economy.” Others, such as Robert Borosage, are more blunt, attacking the emphasis on skills as a “charade” that is “clearly a nod to the still potent New Democrat forces in the party.”

But the Senate Democrats’ strategy is the right move. If Democrats want to win the broadest possible support both in 2018 and beyond, “free college” is not the way to do it. In fact, a Democratic insistence on free college would guarantee the party continues to talk past a significant group of voters who don’t believe that college is the best or only path to the middle class.

“Free college” might have its share of passionate adherents, but it hasn’t been broadly popular with voters. A 2016 Gallup poll, for example, found that less than half of Americans—or just 47 percent—supported the idea of tuition-free college. It’s especially unpopular among the white working class voters who flocked to Donald Trump and whom Democrats are now working hard to court.

One reason for this lack of enthusiasm might be the price tag. Even the skimpiest of benefits would be enormously expensive in the aggregate. Sanders, who recently reintroduced his “College for All” legislation, estimates the cost of his plan, to be paid for by a new “transactions tax” on stock trades, would be $47 billion a year (and that’s assuming states pick up one-third of the tab).

 

But there are other, deeper reasons why “free college” has failed to catch fire, particularly among the white working class. A sizeable share of voters don’t believe they would benefit from free college—or that the benefits would even flow their way. Many Americans also rightly believe that you don’t need a college degree to get a decent job, even in today’s globalized economy.

Continued at the Washington Monthly

Why more students should go to college in high school

Dual enrollment’ programs—where students attend both high school and college—are gaining in popularity as college costs soar.

Via Washington Monthly

At just 24 years old, Haleigh Funk Butler already has seven years of professional experience in nursing. At 17, she started training at Culpeper Community Hospital in Culpeper, Virginia, and then worked at a family practice in nearby Warrenton. At 19, she became a registered nurse. For the past four and a half years, she’s worked in the medical-surgical unit at the Novant Health–UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center.

“Patients look at me and think I’m 16 years old,” Funk Butler said. “They say, ‘Hold up! How long have you been doing this?’ I tell them I’ve been a nurse for 7 years.”

What gave Funk Butler the head start in her career was a “dual enrollment” program at Eastern View High School in Culpeper, which prepared her to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the same time she was earning her diploma. Funk Butler took her LPN exam the month before her high school graduation in 2011 and then immediately landed the job in Warrenton, where she worked full-time while pursuing her RN license at Germanna Community College in Locust Grove. She continued to work and study and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing last year from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

“If I had gone the traditional route, I would only have been a nurse for two years or maybe three years by now,” Funk Butler said. “I feel like I’m in a much more mature state than other people I know who are still struggling to find that job as a career.”

Best of all, Funk Butler is debt free. “I was lucky that my parents had a little bit of a college fund for me, but I didn’t even really break into that at all,” said Funk Butler. “I have no school debt—nothing.”

Dual enrollment programs—aimed at giving high school students a leg up on college—have been around since the 1950s. But with growing worries both about soaring college costs and whether the price of college is worth the returns in job and earnings opportunities, dual enrollment has surged in popularity as a way for students to save both time and money towards a college degree, earn a credential with immediate value in the job market—or both.

Continue reading at Washington Monthly

The Manufacturing Jobs Program Trump Wants to Kill

The little-known Manufacturing Extension Partnership program has helped grow small businesses like Michele’s Granola.

Via Washington Monthly

Walk into Michele’s Granola factory in Timonium, Maryland, and you smell the homey aromas of toasting oats, brown sugar and vanilla. The facility produces 2,500 pounds of granola a day in eight different flavors—from classic vanilla almond to more exotic varieties like pumpkin spice, lemon pistachio and ginger hemp. This granola is not the heavy, sticky mass-produced stuff you bought at the supermarket and find months later, congealed in a tub in the back of your pantry. It’s airy, light and practically crackles in your teeth.

“The granola has a very unique texture,” said company founder Michele Tsucalas. “We use just five to seven simple ingredients—nothing you wouldn’t find in your home kitchen.”

Tsucalas began baking her own granola more than a decade ago, experimenting at home as a weekend distraction from her day job as a nonprofit fundraiser. Once her recipe was perfected, she started selling her granola at farmers’ markets in northern Virginia and then at a food co-op in Maryland. Sales started catching fire, and today you can find Michele’s Granola in a dozen states, including at Whole Foods stores throughout the mid-Atlantic United States, and in Wegmans stores in the northeast. Since her first farmers’ market in 2006, Tsucalas’s business has grown from a one-woman concern operating out of leased space in a commercial kitchen to a sleek boutique business with 35 full-time workers.

But the secret to her success is more than a great product. Also instrumental was a little-known but decades-old government program—the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program—aimed at helping small and medium-sized manufacturers like Michele’s Granola grow. It’s also on the chopping block in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, one of dozens of programs the administration wants to kill.

While Trump has lately touted his efforts at job creation, including with a recent visit to Wisconsin to promote U.S. manufacturing, his plan to zero out the MEP program would eliminate one of the federal government’s best programs for achieving exactly that goal. It’s yet another example of how Trump’s actual economic policies fail to match—and even contradict—the president’s promises and rhetoric.

 

Continue reading at Washington Monthly

Deconstricting the Administrative State

Donald Trump promises that his deregulatory agenda will lead to a boom in jobs. The real effect will be the opposite.

Via Washington Monthly

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt was a bitter opponent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which he sued repeatedly while in office. Now, as President Donald Trump’s pick to run this very agency, Pruitt has leaped at his chance to sabotage it from within.

Days after his confirmation as EPA administrator, Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal that the agency might lack authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—something the EPA has been doing for most of the last decade. Soon thereafter, he halted pending rules requiring oil and gas producers to disclose their methane emissions, ordered a “review” of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, and declared an end to the “regulatory assault” on industry.

Pruitt’s efforts to hobble the EPA are in line with Trump’s broader vendetta against “job-killing regulation,” a signature initiative of both Trump’s campaign and presidency. “Excessive regulation is killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before,” said Trump in February.

But that’s not how the entrepreneurs at NBD Nano-technologies see it.

The Boston-area start-up (“NBD Nano,” as it calls itself) arguably got its first big break as a result of exactly the rules Pruitt is working so hard to undo. After the EPA announced, in 2009, its intention to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including the emissions of coal-fired power plants, power companies started scrambling for ways to burn less coal.

One strategy companies began exploring is how to make the steam turbines that generate electricity more efficient. Much of what a power plant does is heat water into steam, and a major source of inefficiency is the time it takes to condense steam back into water before it’s reheated.

Enter NBD Nano.

In 2013, the company won a small grant from the National Science Foundation to see if its products—oil- and waterproof industrial coatings—could help power plants convert steam into water more quickly. The company found that using its materials to coat the thousands of copper tubes that line a power plant’s “condenser box,” where steam is captured and cooled, dramatically speeds up condensation by encouraging water droplets to form more quickly and at higher temperatures. That means power plants can use less fuel to reheat the water into steam.

After the company won a second grant in 2015 to help commercialize its technology, it began piloting its coatings at a power plant run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. So far, results have been good. “We’re now in the process of rolling it out globally to power plants around the world,” said Timothy Evans, NBD Nano’s vice president of sales.

Regulation, says company cofounder and president Deckard Sorensen, is the catalyst that prompted bigger companies to seek him out. “Large companies don’t necessarily have the capability to develop innovations in-house,” said Sorensen, who launched NBD Nano while still an undergraduate at Boston College. “So they look for entrepreneurs [to help them] align with regulations. It facilitates these larger companies being willing to work with small companies at an earlier stage.”

Now with twelve employees, NBD Nano’s early win has allowed it to set its sights on broader horizons. One of its products, a glass coating called RepelShell, could soon be standard on your car’s windshield and windows. Sorensen says the company is also working to produce smudge-proof touchscreens for smartphones and tablets (this writer will be first in line), and mud-proof soccer shoes are already in the works.

NBD Nano’s story is not a fluke. Federal regulation—especially when crafted with sensitivity to market needs—is the visible hand behind many new products, technologies, and industries benefiting both consumers and the U.S. economy.

Thinking about swapping your clunker for a Tesla? Electric cars would not be as readily availableas they are today without the tougher federal fuel economy standards that helped spur their development. Tesla is now America’s second most valuable car company, after GM, with a market value of $48 billion—testament to the potential investors see in this sector.

The same goes for the solar panels you might be contemplating for your roof. In 2007, as part of broader energy legislation, Congress passed a federal “renewable fuels standard” requiring renewables to replace a certain amount of traditional fossil fuel. The regulation has been a boon for solar and wind, as well as for nascent technologies such as bio-fuels, which could someday supplant coal, gas, and oil with fuels made from algae and garbage. In the solar energy sector, for example, the Solar Foundation estimates that 260,000 Americans held solar-related jobs in 2016, an increase of 25 percent over 2015.

Even the pieces of legislation most despised by the current GOP-controlled Congress—such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—have sparked a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, you may have noticed a surge of new offerings in your smartphone’s app store for money management tools, like Betterment, an automated investment app that charges lower fees than traditional mutual funds, or Digit, a savings app that automatically transfers small amounts of money into your savings account, depending on your spending patterns. One reason apps like these are increasingly available is because the big banks no longer have a monopoly on your bank account information—a provision in Dodd-Frank gives you the right to control that data, including the right to grant third-party companies like Betterment and Digit permission to access it. It’s the reason why the fast-growing financial technology (“fin-tech”) sector is now fighting to save Dodd-Frank.

The ACA, meanwhile, has helped launched such new firms as Zenefits, a San Francisco–based health insurance broker for small employers that grew to 900 employees in the two years following the passage of the law. The surge of new consumers created by the ACA, along with the law’s new mandates, helped create at least ninety new health-related companies, according to a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), including firms that deliver telehealth services to patients and help doctors provide better care to people with chronic diseases, in addition to companies like Zenefits. According to the PwC report, venture funding for digital health start-ups also hit an all-time high in 2014, north of $4 billion.

All of these stories run counter to the dominant political narrative of regulation as a deadweight on the economy. This belief is gospel on the corporate-controlled free market right, and even liberals defending regulation seldom do so in terms of its broader positive economic impacts. With the sole exception of clean energy, where liberals have readily touted the link between regulation and jobs, you will look in vain for a progressive politician who more generally defends regulation as an instrument of innovation and economic growth. Rather, the prevailing frame is that of regulators as guardians of public safety and health. The same is true of the liberal advocacy community. “Public health, safety, pocketbook and environmental protections are being wiped out as payback to the GOP’s corporate donors,” warns the website of Rules at Risk, an umbrella campaign by progressive groups. This is true enough. But nowhere on the website does the group make a full-throated argument for how regulations benefit the economy as a whole. By ceding the economic argument, liberals have effectively allowed the debate on regulation to be framed as one of jobs versus safety, growth versus health. Voters are left believing that they have to choose between the two—a false choice that also gives the advantage to the GOP as the better champion of jobs and economic growth.

With Republicans now in control of both Congress and the executive branch (not to mention a renewed conservative majority on the Supreme Court), a reactionary assault on regulation that’s been contemplated for years could come to pass as early as this year. In fact, this hammer blow—part of what White House strategist Steve Bannon calls the “deconstruction of the administrative state”—is more likely to happen than the other high-profile priorities, such as tax reform or ACA repeal, that garner far more media attention.

While Trump has brandished a series of anti-regulation executive orders—such as a requirement that agencies get rid of two old regulations for every new rule issued—the real action is in Congress, which has moved aggressively to enact an agenda that could paralyze federal agencies and bring all regulatory work to a halt. And with Democrats defending twenty-five Senate seats next year, including ten in states won by Trump, the temptation for vulnerable senators to support these measures will be fierce. In North Dakota, for example, embattled Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is among the three current cosponsors of the Regulatory Accountability Act, one of the principal proposals being advocated by congressional anti-regulationists.

Anti-regulation conservatives sell their agenda with the promise that it will help business and spur growth. What they—and many liberals—fail to acknowledge is that regulation, far from being a drag on economic growth and competitiveness, often provides the infrastructure necessary for growth and innovation to occur. It eliminates the uncertainty that can stifle investment, sets minimum standards for the smooth running of markets, and husbands the birth of new industries by setting goals that demand innovation to achieve. Gumming up the regulatory works and slowing or even stopping the rule-making process, on the other hand, raises risk and stifles innovation by erasing the market signals that industries need. Trump and his allies promise that their deregulatory agenda will lead to a boom in job creation. The real effect will likely be the opposite.

Continue reading at Washington Monthly