Another amendment to weaken health and environmental protection fails in the Senate

Silly season continues.  Yesterday, June 8, 2011, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK offered an amendment would threaten public health and safety and our environment by delaying rulemaking, wasting staff time and resources, and denying consideration of the value to the lives saved, illnesses and natural resource damage avoided, and safety improvements our regulatory system provides.  The vote failed 53-46; falling 7 below the 60-vote requirement.  During the Senate debate, the supporters stuck to their right wing talking points and never, ever, mentioned the benefit of regulations.

 The Snowe-Coburn amendment is based on the flawed premise that federal regulations are so burdensome that they are hurting small business.  This premise, which is pushed by the big business lobby of the U.S. Chamber, knows this is not the case.  The head of the Chamber, Tom Donohue, in a speech in the fall admitted that the problem for small business was not federal regulations.  He said:

Federal regulations are only the tip of the iceberg—there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of regulations at the state and local levels. In fact, those are often the ones small businesses complain about the most.

Full statement here

In reviewing rules under the amendment in section 5, the agencies would consider costs six different ways but would all but ignore the health, food safety, environmental, or safety benefits of the rule.  Costs would trump Congressional intent to protect Americans. This one-sided accounting, for example, attributes no value to lives saved; sick days avoided, or reduced instances of illnesses or damage to natural resources.   Many of these benefits can—and have—been monetized.  Official estimates from the Office of Management and Budget, during both Democratic and Republican Administrations, have uniformly found that the benefits of regulation far exceed the costs and that costs are much less than identified in this amendment. For the fiscal years 2001-2010, the OMB estimated the combined cost of major regulations at between $44 billion and $62 billion, with benefits of regulation at between $136 billion to $651 billion.  These economic factors, however, represent only the beginning of the benefit to our workers, children, and communities. 

The right wing echo chamber talks about “job-killing” regulations but fails to talk specifics. Americans are skeptical about regulations in general but not when you get to the specifics. There is broad public support for those rules that protect us from hazards we are helpless to protect ourselves from without government assistance -- such as tainted food, contaminated drinking water or toxic air pollutants. 

 Which of those regulations do the sponsors want to repeal?