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2011 Look Back: The year's best coverage on the struggle to preserve public protections

This past year we witnessed an unrelenting attack on public safeguards. Since the release of the infamous “Cantor Memo” (which announced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s attack plan), it seemed like whenever you turned on the TV news or opened your favorite fishwrap (go ahead and google that one kids) all you heard about was the GOP war on regulations.

And even though the Republican echo chamber was loud and livid, the actual truth about regulatory protections got out – a lot. As 2011 winds down, here is a look back on the best coverage on the struggle to preserve our vital safeguards.

One of the best overviews of the fight came from the article Public Citizen President Robert Weissman wrote for the October 31st edition of The Nation magazine, “The GOP’s Deregulation Obsession.”

The Huffington Post followed with interest and a few posts captured the story well:  “Republican Nonsense on Regulation” by Jonathan Weiler, Jeffrey Hollender’s “The Harms of Regulation Phobia” and Marcia G. Yerman’s “National Poll says America Wants the EPA”

The New York Times had several good articles on the year’s regulatory battles, including a highly recommended analysis by Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy adviser in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, “Misrepresentations, Regulations and Jobs.”

Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman also wrote on the subject. “Phony Fear Factor” and “Party of Pollution” were notable in debunking the idea that cutting back on regulations would create jobs.

Even Times columnist David Brooks was moved to offer his view, in “The Wonky Liberal” where he defended President Obama’s regulatory policy by rightly saying regulations “are not tanking the economy.” While they thought Brooks did “an excellent job of debunking the big business hysteria over regulations,” Weissman and OMB Watch President Katherine McFate wrote a letter to the editor pointing out “the big business story is even more upside down than (Brooks) reports.” The pair serve as co-chairs of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS), the alliance of 70 organizations that has been leading in the fight to preserve our vital protections.

Much of the struggle has been fought over jobs, simply because Cantor and his troops have been constantly claiming regulations harm the economy and growth. Numerous articles and opinion pieces have proved them wrong. A sampling:

Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, “Regulations aren’t to blame for the ‘uncovery’ “

Marian Wang in ProPublica “Do Regulations Really Kill Jobs Overall? Not So Much”

Kevin Drum in Mother Jones “The Great Regulation Charade”

Morgan Housel in The Motley Fool “Why the Jobs Disappeared”

Following one of the GOP presidential debates in October, the Associated Press reported “FACT CHECK: Regulations not a huge jobs killer”

Jia Lynn Yang wrote several stories for the Washington Post including “GOP takes aim at process of crafting regulations” where she cites an important study by the CSS on the Regulatory Accountability Act, and  “Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal,” which prompted a Weissman/McFate letter to the editor.

Republicans tried to argue that this “reform” was for the benefit of small businesses. Many countered that bogus claim:

Mike Krajovic in The Hill “Small business shouldn’t be used as an argument for regulatory ‘reform'”

Jim Houser in the Des Moines Register “Deregulation push is masquerading as small business aid”

Frank Knapp in The Hill “Regulatory reform good for multinationals, yet bad for you”

Vincent Siciliano at CNBC “How the REINS Act fails small businesses and the economy”

Kevin G. Hall for McClatchy “Regulation, taxes aren’t killing small businesses owners say”

Bettyann Sheats in the Portland Press Herald “Businesses don’t need ‘timeout'”

There have been scores of other articles, in outlets all across the country. Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh visited West Virginia as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s anti-regulatory “road show” this summer and drew heat from Dan Radmacher’s piece “Mine safety going in wrong direction” in the Charleston Gazette.

Perhaps my favorite one was published this month on the opinion page at CNN’s website. Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry’s fame, wrote about how regulations prevented the national giants from snuffing out his ice cream company when it was just starting out. Take a minute and read “When market rules, the big guy wins” and remember without regulations, we may never have known the pure bliss that is Chunky Monkey.

Follow @RegsRock for more coverage of the struggle to preserve public protections!