In the frenzied presidential TV show known as RomBama, we have two right-of-center corporatists trying to cancel each other out by neutering each other's conservative machismo. Romney accuses Obama of being a big socialist spender. Obama counters by bragging that he has been the biggest tightwad austerian in presidential history. Romney charges that Obama is a job-killer by virtue of being the biggest anti-business regulating Marxist in the history of the free market. The president disabuses Mitt of that notion, righteously pointing to the inconvenient truth that George Bush pushed through more regulations benefiting public health and well-being than he ever did.
Why does Barry even bother? Right-wingers just refuse to give him the respect he deserves. The best they could offer on his Secret White House Death Panel controlled leak to the Times stenographers was a stony silence. Donald Trump, though, miraculously started getting unfettered TV time in a resurgence of birtherism and its accompanying manufactured outrage from the shills on MSDNC.
Instead of championing the rights of the people to breathe clean air and drink clean water, the president is trying to paint himself as every bit as corporation and pollution-friendly as Mitt Romney. So Romney has no choice but to paint himself as a slash-and-burn nihilist, who would dismantle the EPA entirely on Day One. The political one-upmanship gets more gruesome by the day.
And the White House is crying foul over being falsely portrayed as pro-environment and public health when it is no such thing! As Andrew Zajac and Hans Nichols of Bloomberg wrote today:
Savings identified thus far include more than $5 billion from loosened reporting requirements for health-care providers, $2.8 billion from changing the labeling and classification of hazardous chemicals, and $1.8 billion from overhauling inspection rules for poultry slaughtering operations.
Many of the regulatory changes have been recommended by business leaders on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in an e-mailed statement.
“The Obama administration has aggressively reformed regulatory policy to eliminate unnecessary burdens on America’s families and businesses while utilizing smart rules to protect lives, safety and the environment,” she said.But the "unnecessary burdens" the president is so proudly and pragmatically removing from the shoulders of all those stressed-out families (read: corporations are indeed people, my friend) are actually killing us every bit as dead as those precise drone strikes aimed against our fellow humans residing in Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Somalia. Just a little more insidiously. The public interest group Center for Progressive Reform is blunt in its assessment:
For all intents and purposes, the Administration seems to have shut down its regulatory machinery, evidently unwilling to advance significant regulatory initiatives for fear that they could adversely affect the President’s chances of being reelected. Although presidents are typically sensitive about endorsing controversial rules during the summer and fall immediately preceding an election, two aspects of the Obama Administration’s behavior are unusual. First, the Obama Administration’s effective “moratorium” on controversial rules seems to have begun months earlier than it has during past administrations, and in certain notable cases--for example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposals to curb ozone pollution and make coal ash disposal sites safer--took hold as much as a year before the national election. Second, the list of rules bottled up by the Administration’s over-cautiousness includes long-overdue and relatively straightforward proposals--for example, a rule to mandate safe manufacturing practices for infant formula.
The price Americans are paying for the Administration’s unwillingness to proceed apace is high, both in the near and long term. The Administration’s failure to meet its own deadlines on just two of the rules (one regulating toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and process heaters, and the other restricting ozone pollution) will cost an estimated 6,500 to 17,967 premature deaths, 9,867 non-fatal heart attacks, 3,947 cases of chronic bronchitis, and more than 2.3 million lost work and school days. Those are the costs of projected delays the Administration now acknowledges. If the rules fall further behind schedule, the toll imposed by delay will mount. And if the rules are eventually scuttled or significantly weakened, even more people will die prematurely or suffer ill health, and an even greater cost will be imposed on the economy.You can read the whole CPR report, along with the chilling chart of statistics, here.
Obama apologists don't have a leg to stand on if they try to blame nasty Republicans or a recalcitrant Congress for the president's inaction when it comes to our health and safety. A stroke of his executive pen would put the plans into action. His failure to act can only be the result of pure, self-interested, sleazy politics, notwithstanding the fact that the GOP has tried to starve the regulatory agencies of resources over the years. That "fierce urgency of now" that Candidate Obama trumpeted during his first campaign has morphed into the bland passive aggression of Sometime/Never.
* If you were hoping for a small puff of blowback from the populace over this news, you are doomed to disappointment. Glenn Greenwald explains how extremism has now become normalized. We have lost our capacity to be outraged. We have been shocked and awed into numbed apathy.