Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session, it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills. Not one of them created a new job. Unfortunately, those in Congress who favor profits over public safety are still at it.
Next up is H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012,” an absurd bill that calls for a halt on public protections until the unemployment rate reaches six percent. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bill on Tuesday, March 20.
Congress should be focusing attention on scandalously high unemployment, but it should be getting to the heart of the matter, not repeating tired falsehoods and reinforcing misleading assumptions about public protections. Let’s remember that regulation did not cause the jobs crisis, and it’s not a significant obstacle to job creation.
In reality, public protections strengthen the economy and make our country stronger, safer and more secure. Our nation has made advancements beyond the wildest dreams of our Founders, due largely to the standards put in place that protect everyone. Here’s a short list of some of the things regulations have done for our country:
• Made our food safer
• Saved tens of thousands of lives by making our cars safer
• Made it safer to breathe, saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually
• Protected children’s brain development by phasing out leaded gasoline and lead-based paint, dramatically reducing blood lead levels
• Empowered disabled Americans by giving them improved access to public facilities and workplace opportunities through implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
• Guaranteed a minimum wage, ended child labor and established limits on the length of the work week
• Saved the lives of thousands of workers every year
The vastness of the regulatory freeze bill’s scope also presents some unintended consequences that would seem silly, even ridiculous, to most Americans. Hunters would find the bill interfering with bird hunting season; aging Americans would discover the bill delaying Medicare payment schedules (which would impact patient services); veterans would be hurt by the bill’s impacts on benefits for those suffering with long-term illnesses; soldiers who stayed for prolonged deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan would see promised compensation delayed or even blocked by the bill; and college students would see undesirable impacts on Pell and other academic grants.
The absurdity of H.R. 4078 reaches stratospheric heights, because what Congress is telling agencies is “don’t enforce the laws that we pass.” Simply put, if the House passes this moratorium bill, it would essentially be sabotaging its own legislation. The folks who drafted this bill obviously did not think it through.