Obama’s New Approach to Regulation Is Misguided; We Need Stronger Controls Over Big Business

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Obama’s New Approach to Regulation Is Misguided; We Need Stronger Controls Over Big Business

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama’s opinion editorial today adopts business and
right-wing think-tank talking points about the harms of regulation and
urges “balance” in achieving the right amount of regulation - not so
little that we fail to protect the public, and not so much as to harm
the economy.

This is the wrong way to think about regulation, and it is the wrong
direction for the American people. Markets cannot function without
proper regulation. That means businesses cannot function without proper
regulation. We do not need a “balance” between regulation and the free
market. We need effective regulations that foster the right types of
markets.

The dominant fact of American life in recent years has been grossly
inadequate public protections. In the past several years,
under-regulation and corporate disregard of safety rules have resulted
in multiple salmonella and E. coli outbreaks, a flood of lead-tainted
toys, a massive and environmentally devastating oil spill, deadly mine
disasters and the collapse of our economy, which has cost eight million
American jobs. We need to focus most urgently on fixing these problems
and others, not burden agencies, which already are overworked and
under-resourced, with more internal reviews and red tape.

Republican leaders have signaled that they intend to challenge
existing public protections, weaken agencies like the Food and Drug
Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, and block the implementation of
financial reform and other legislation. Some Democrats also have
indicated a strong skepticism of regulation, if not an outright
anti-regulatory bias.

The stakes could not be greater: At risk are our lives, our health
and our economy. The administration should be preparing for a major
fight to implement effective public protections on behalf of the
American people - not echoing the Big Business’ talking points.
 
We will have to review the administration’s executive order and
memoranda before commenting specifically on them. We can only hope,
however, that the administration’s op-ed is nothing more than a mistaken
communications strategy, not an indication of its substantive plans.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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