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New report from Demos, U.S. PIRG highlights the damage done by regulatory "reform"

The people who bring you regulatory “reform” (Big Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their cheerleaders in Congress) are hard at work trying to slow down and even halt regulatory safeguards. Now, a new report by Demos and the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) reveals that Americans’ lives, health and livelihoods would be put at risk if these so-called “reform” proposals were to become law.

The first in a series of state reports focus on Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania (with others coming soon), on how their residents would be harmed by each year of delay in the creation of three upcoming proposed bills: The “Regulations from the Executive in Need Of Scrutiny (REINS) Act”, The “Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA),” and The “Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act (RFIA).”

According to the reports, thousands of Americans are at risk:

  • In Pennsylvania alone, for each year the government fails to update the restriction on levels of toxic soot in the air the state will face 3,890 preventable deaths and 84,539 preventable asthma attacks among children.
  • In Ohio, delaying the Affordable Care Act’s ban on health insurance companies discriminating against patients with pre- existing conditions for one year will put 65,060 newly diagnosed cancer patients at risk of being denied health insurance.
  • Allowing food processors to delay one year before using new standards from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safe handling of produce will cause approximately 200,000 local cases of foodborne illness—more than the entire city of Worcester.

Nasima Hossain, public health advocate at U.S. PRIG was succinct in her assessment of the report’s findings. “This report demonstrates that the ‘regulatory reform’ proposals being considered by Congress are a serious threat to Americans,” she said. “Policymakers should resist efforts by powerful special interests to weaken public health and consumer safety rules. The need for consumer safety should not be a political question or a partisan issue.”

Ben Peck, Demos senior legislative and policy associate, said the negative consequences of these industry-backed ‘regulatory reform’ proposals, should they become law, are difficult to overstate. “These proposals would have such a profound impact on our daily lives—from our first breath in the morning to the food we eat throughout the day,” Peck said. “Without government safeguards, experience has shown that industry will cut corners in pursuit of short-term profit. Electric utilities will foul our air, and food processors will neglect the safety procedures needed to keep our food free of contamination. Proponents of ‘regulatory reform’ minimize the real-world impact of the years added to the basic regulatory process because of the new red tape these proposals would create. Our analysis shows how every year costs American lives.”

Demos and U.S. PIRG join Public Citizen as members of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, an alliance of consumer, small business, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all.

Read the report series here.