Demolition Agenda

How Trump Tried to Dismantle American Government, and What Biden Needs to Do to Save It

The first comprehensive account of the Trump administration’s efforts to destroy our government institutions, by the man Ralph Nader says “writes authoritatively and with revealing detail about important topics that few others cover”

“Tom McGarity writes authoritatively and with revealing detail about important topics that few others cover.”
—Ralph Nader

Koch Industries spent $3.1 million in the first three months of the Trump administration, largely to ensure confirmation of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. By July 2018, more than sixteen federal inquiries were pending into Pruitt’s mismanagement and corruption. But Pruitt was just the first in a long line of industry-friendly, incompetent, and destructive agency heads put in place by the Trump administration in its effort to dismantle the federal government’s protective edifice.

Remember Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who, before he faced eighteen separate federal inquiries and was fired, made a deal with Halliburton to build a brewery on land that Zinke owned in Montana? Or how about Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who rescinded requirements that high-hazard trains install special braking systems, weakened standards for storing natural gas, and lengthened the hours that truck drivers could be on the road without a break, even as she failed for two years to divest her interest in a road materials manufacturer? And then there were Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, Sonny Perdue, Andrew Puzder . . . the list goes on.

In an original and compelling argument, Thomas McGarity shows how adding populists to the Republican’s traditional base of free market ideologues and establishment Republicans allowed Trump to come dangerously close to achieving his goal of demolishing the programs that Congress put in place over the course of many decades to protect consumers, workers, communities, children, and the environment. Finally, McGarity offers a blueprint for rebuilding the protective edifice and restoring the power of the American government to offer all Americans better lives.


“The wealth of solid information in Demolition Agenda about what happened to national agencies regulating health, science, and the environment makes it an astonishing and weighty read. It’s the sort of book that journalists, activists, and historians may want to keep on their shelves—forever.”
“Powerful special interests wield outsized influence over American government, leading to disastrous consequences for the American people. McGarity shines a spotlight on those powerful interests and their willing accomplices in the Trump administration. It’s an important story told thoroughly and well.”
—Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. senator for Rhode Island
“Free market ideologues have worked for decades to dismantle the regulatory state, seeking to return us to the halcyon days when corporations could pollute, poison, and collude with impunity. Until the election of Donald Trump, however, they lacked the populist base they needed to move their extremist ideas into the mainstream. In this deeply researched and sometimes chilling study, Thomas McGarity lays bare the conservative playbook and details the clear and present danger posed by the ‘demolition agenda.’”
—Jack Schneider, associate professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and co-author of A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door
“Backed by solid research and deep knowledge of regulatory law, this is a persuasive argument for the power of government to make a positive impact.”
Publishers Weekly
Demolition Agenda by Tom McGarity made me so angry that I had to put the book down every few pages. But then I had to pick it up again and continue reading about Trump’s campaign to destroy the institutions that make people from all over the world strive to become Americans. A heartbreaking, sobering read.”
—Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and co-author of Tax the Rich!
“Tom McGarity has long been recognized as a foremost authority on administrative regulation. In Demolition Agenda, he thoroughly dissects Donald Trump’s efforts to dismantle agency programs that Congress has created to protect the public. This excellent book offers a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the political forces and practical strategies that have undermined the rule of law in key policy areas.”
—William F. West, professor of public service and administration, Texas A&M University
“A behind-the-scenes look at a program of social destruction carried on with little fanfare—and to devastating effect.”
Kirkus Reviews

News and Reviews

The Nation

Read an excerpt adapted from Thomas McGarity's Demolition Agenda in The Nation about the return of two of the Trump era's biggest grifters to the public arena.

Center for Progressive Reform

Watch a discussion of Demolition Agenda with author Thomas McGarity at the Center for Progressive Reform.


Read a review of Demolition Agenda in Forbes.

Goodreads Reviews