Republican Party representatives in Congress appear able to muster foresight exclusively for purposes of political gain and ideological “street-cred.” Last week the Republican-controlled House passed the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (i.e. REINS Act),” essentially an extreme form of cost-benefit analysis controlled by the Congress. It’s just politics, though, right? Wrong. What’s at stake in this pugnacious piece of legislation is the health of millions of Americans and environmental integrity for generations to come.
The REINS Act would send to Congress for a vote any “major rule” expected to have more than a $100 million annual economic effect, significantly increase costs or stifle productivity or innovation. The category could include proposed rules to strengthen protections fromtoxic air pollution that still plagues hundreds of communities across the country.
As the Republican House well knows, many of the regulations that the EPA in particular has in mind would well exceed the $100 million “annual economic effect” ceiling set by the REINS Act, effectively shelving the regulations. With this in mind, it’s time for the Democratic Party to more aggressively call out what the Republican Party in Congress is attempting to do: undermine public health for the sake of “economic growth.” Further, the Democratic Party must continue to hammer away at the point that environmental regulations do not necessarily correspond with economic losses in the short or long run. Indeed, environmental regulations can spur innovation and promote economic growth in the short and long run (anyone remember the PCBs regulations for refrigerators?) For those companies that do suffer short-term or long-term economic losses, the gains in human health and worker productivity has the strong potential to trump such losses. What would you pay for your loved-one to be free of mercury poisoning or any host of toxic substance related illnesses?
The youth of this country in particular need a strong Democratic Party willing and able to stand up strong on the issues that matter most to its base of supporters. The same could apply to all segments of the Democratic Party faithful. Compromise has its place, but not when human lives and irreversible environmental degradation is at stake.