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Big Business supporters in Congress keep whacking away at public safeguards

Public safeguards took another whack by Big Business supporters in Congress today, with the introduction of the “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011.” Sponsored by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn), the bill is a radical measure that would severely weaken laws that protect our health, safety and the environment. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, in which Public Citizen plays a leading role, condemns the proposed legislation, while urging members of Congress to reject it.

Photo by paigeh via flickr

Essentially, the bill would tilt the regulatory process in favor of corporate interests over public safety. It would change procedural and evidentiary requirements, add more delays and set an even higher bar than currently exists for issuing needed protections. In short, it would make the process go even slower by tying up agencies in court, and forcing them to defend the safeguards they would seek to establish. Ironically, this bill would breed the very uncertainty it claims to address.

“This proposed legislation is couched as affecting process, but let no one be fooled: The bill aims to empower large corporations to sabotage the rules that protect regular Americans,” said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. “The bill should properly be called ‘The Big Business Unaccountability Act.’”

What is most galling about this continued attack on public safeguards is that it’s being conducted in the name of protecting small businesses. However, recent studies show small businesses aren’t threatened or overwhelmed by regulations. A survey by the National Association for Business Economics revealed “80 percent of survey respondents felt that the current regulatory environment was ‘good’ for American businesses and the overall economy.” Additionally, McClatchy/Tribune News Service conducted a survey of small business owners and reported “None of the business owners complained about regulation in their own industries, and most seemed to welcome it.”

So what’s going on here is pretty evident: It isn’t the mom-and-pop store on Main Street, USA that is looking to destroy public safeguards. No, instead it’s the corporate giants of Wall Street that are up to no good, with their advocates in Washington gladly serving as the tip of their spear