If one believes the claims of the National Republican Party and its political lackies, it would appear that the federal government over-regulates all companies – large and small – in the U.S. But that’s far from reality. In fact, almost every day brings new evidence of the real need for America to strengthen our system of health, safety, environmental, financial and other regulatory protections. Such things as dangerous products, tainted food, rip-off credit card terms, and polluted air and waters are causing folks a great deal of hurt and misery in this country. Much of that is due to poor and inadequate regulation. Yet there is a movement underway led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Republican allies in Congress that is bad news for the American people. These groups have put together a major campaign designed, not to improve, but to undermine the regulatory system in the U.S. If that happens, the health and safety of the consuming public will be put in serious jeopardy.
One of my favorite groups, Public Citizen, has led the counter-charge to fend off this assault on the rules and regulations that make all of us safer and our country stronger. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a broad alliance created to unite public interest organizations against the Chamber-led effort, has had some success. But there is much yet to be done. The urgent need for stronger regulatory protections will remain the focal point in the battle.
Big Business has improperly leveraged its political influence in many instances to block new safeguards. It’s claimed that regulation hurts the economy, but that is far from true. In reality, strong regulation, which is fairly administered, actually improves the efficiency of business and spurs innovation. That’s not a message that those who want to weaken – and in many cases destroy – the regulatory system want the public to hear. That’s why groups like Public Citizen are so important and so badly needed.
It’s essential that both Congress and the Obama Administration get this message. Folks must demand that our regulatory system be defended and improved. That won’t be easily done, and for that reason, public support must be mobilized. The stories of the victims of regulatory failures – the child suffering from pollution-induced asthma, the woman sickened and nearly killed by food poisoning, the family of the mother killed by an unsafe truck lift, and there are many more – must be told in order to make clear to the public what is at stake.
The policy disputes over regulation aren’t about abstract concepts. Instead, they determine matters of the greatest consequence to real people, including matters of life and death. I encourage all of our readers to join with Public Citizen, join the fight to make our nation’s regulatory system strong and fair, and let the President and members of Congress know how you feel. For more information on this subject go to Citizen.org.
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