The battle escalating in our Nation’s Capitol over regulations – the rules that are supposed to help keep our air and water clean, the food and products we buy and use safe, and things like children’s toys from being lethal – is critically important. This is a battle that the American people can’t afford to lose. Big business is pushing a duplicitous narrative about regulation impeding job growth and that’s just flat wrong. The safeguards that are afforded by good and effective regulation have huge benefits for consumers and also for the businesses that follow the rules. The America people should be up in arms over what is happening on the regulatory front, but unfortunately, the message doesn’t seem to be registering. I attribute that to the simple fact that most folks don’t understand the regulatory system. In fact, while many believe that the government actually does a good job of regulation, others have accepted the myth that there has been too much regulation.
While our regulatory efforts haven’t been the best, at least there has been regulation that really benefited the public. For example, a recent analysis by Public Citizen showed that five major worker health and safety rules have saved thousands of lives, prevented tens of thousands of injuries, and, in many instances, improved productivity. That’s the message that the media and our elected leaders getting out to the public.
Big business, led by the National Chamber of Commerce, its powerful lobby group, has been spending tremendous sums of money to get members of Congress to accept their “too much regulation” views. As a result, we are already hearing a number of Representatives and Senators parroting the claims that regulation hurts our economy and causes us to lose jobs. But all Americans have seen what happens when the government fails to do its regulatory duty. Exhibit One is the BP oil spill, with all of the misery it has caused, and it was caused in part by a failure to regulate. We badly need to improve our regulation of the powerful oil industry, but there are others, such as the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, that are poorly regulated, as well. Hopefully, folks are beginning to wake up and will put pressure on members of Congress to support strong, effective and fair regulation.
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