Roy Blunt wants to cripple federal agencies charged with overseeing activities that touch the lives of every American. Legislation he is currently touting would impose a moratorium on new regulations that have an associated cost of more than 100 million dollars. Before we say well-done, Roy, consider the following:
— The final report on the BP Gulf oil spill has concluded that the responsibility for the disaster lay with BP’s failure to adhere to federal regulations. The report recommends increased regulation and strengthened federal oversight if we are to avoid a repetition of a disaster that environmentalists believe would destroy the Gulf eco-system. I suppose I don’t need to point out that there would be massive economic costs as well as irreparable environmental impacts were such an event to occur?
— There were 85 food recalls that sickened at least 1,850 people between July 30, 2009 and September 1, 2010. Decades of weakened regulation and oversight of food safety rules were taking a toll on the well-being of Americans, leading the Senate to finally pass in 2010 a food safety bill that has beefed up essential regulatory tools.
— No matter how Republicans seek to spin it – and they’ve got some doozies when it comes to fanciful stories about what caused our current recession – fair minded folks have to admit that we’re in the economic situation we’re in now because of lax financial regulation. Massive deregulation of banks, beginning in the 1980’s and culminating in S.E.C. rule changes in 2004, turned the banking environment into a new Wild West. Even anti-regulation guru, Alan Greenspan, had, however reluctantly, to admit that he had been wrong about the need for financial regulation.
These are just a few examples of situations where lack of intelligent regulation or the failure of regulatory enforcement bit us badly in the pocket-book as well as in terms of quality of life. Hobbling regulatory agencies is dangerous and possible upfront regulatory costs do not provide sufficient criteria to evaluate their actions. So why is Roy Blunt bellyaching about industrial regulation and proposing to do just that? To hear him tell it, it’s because regulations are “job-killing” – never mind the proven dangers to American jobs posed by the poorly regulated environment of the Bush years, which gave us no real boom, just anemic job creation followed by a monster bust with massive job loss.
The sad aspect of the GOP effort to use the Bush recession to win regulatory concessions favoring corporations is that they show so little respect for the intelligence of the American people that they don’t even bother to give us a coherent rationale. Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler examined House Speaker John Boehner’s claim that there are:
…”219 new rules” that were in the works, which he said “will cost our economy at least $100 million.” He suggested the impact could be immediate. As he put it, “our economy is poised to take a hit from the government of at least $100 million – 219 times.”
When Kessler looked into the matter, he found that Boehner’s assertions not only failed to pass his “Pinocchio” test, they were so egregiously false that they merited the award of three whole Pinocchios:
Boehner left the distinct impression that 219 new regulations were hanging like a Sword of Damocles over the U.S. economy. But it turns out the number of potential regulations is inflated, as well as the potential impact. Many of the regulations may turn out to have substantial costs, but others could have benefits, as a report on the speaker’s Web site makes clear. Boehner wins points for admitting he may have overstated his case, but overall his statement contained significant factual errors.
Boehner earned his Pinocchios by telling fibs about the same types of regulation that Blunt is targeting. Before we allow compliant pols like Blunt to use spurious claims about “job creators” to further the GOP’s corporate wish-list agenda, maybe we should check the size of his nose.