As Washington watchers remain transfixed by the 3-ring circus masquerading as a health reform debate, several Obama appointees have stealthily begun to revitalize the nation’s vast regulatory bureaucracy which had been eviscerated by the Bush administration.
The FDA fired the first shot when it told General Mills it crossed a line with claims that Cheerios lowers cholesterol.
GM was, the FDA said, in effect claiming that Cheerios was a drug, and that it would have to submit clinical trials showing efficacy to the FDA before it could make such assertions.
GM eventually scrubbed the claim from its Web site.
The FDA subsequently went after dietary supplements containing “steroid-like” chemicals and advised consumers to stop using Zicam nasal products after consumers reported it caused them to lose their sense of smell.
The agency knew about both matters during the Bush administration, but didn’t act.
Meanwhile, the new chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Inez Moore Tenenbaum, has lobbied for a law to cut lead levels in children’s products and drafted new safety standards for ATVs.
And over at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, acting head Jordan Barab wants to create rules that protect workers from repetitive-motion injuries, which cause 60% percent of all workplace injuries.
“The law says that employers are responsible for workplace safety and health,” he told the Washington Post. “And there’s a new sheriff in town to enforce the law.”
Alas, many of these initiatives are not done deals. Businesses will argue that they will stifle our nation’s economic recovery.
Their “argument is going to be that this is going to hurt jobs,” said Michael Livermore, who directs the Institute for the Study of Regulation at NYY Law School.
“That has resonance on the Hill and within the public. That’s the one big challenge.”