Tim Pawlenty's budget plan calls for a complete end to essentially all government regulations unless Congress specifically passes legislation to keep them. As others have noted, given the insanity gripping the House GOP right now, that would be tantamount to ending them all.
The CDC recently published a list of public health achievements from the past decade which show why this is such a dumb idea.
Here are just a couple of examples from their list showing why the power to regulate is not merely good for people, but good for business, too.
Tobacco control. According to the CDC, medical bills and lost work time from smoking-related illnesses costs the U.S. about $200 billion per year. Right now, the U.S. government collects about $1 in excise taxes per pack of cigarettes, which works out to about $1 billion per year. So, if we could cut smoking rates in half, that would amount to $500 million in lost revenue, but the economy would benefit by about $100 billion. Sounds like a pretty good rate of return.
But, of course, Pawlenty would rather take away the FDA's power to regulate tobacco (remember, Congress specifically did not give the FDA power to ban tobacco entirely), and condemn thousands to horrible deaths from lung cancer, so as to give extra tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.
Preventing childhood lead poisoning. Because of the use of lead paints and leaded gasoline in the middle of this century, a study carried out from 1976 to 1980 found that 88 percent of children aged 1 to 5 had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Over the last 30 years, federal regulations and state regulations have had an enormous impact on that number: a study carried out from 2003 to 2008 found that number had dropped to less than 1 percent.
From a public health standpoint, that cannot be seen as much less than an incredible success. Believe it or not, from an economic standpoint, it's just as good: economic analyses suggest that reducing lead levels that much has improved the U.S. economy by about $200 billion per year, or about 1.5% of our entire GDP.
But, no, regulations are bad, and we need to get rid of them all to help businesses and the wealthy make a few extra cents on the dollar.
America deserves much better than Tim Pawlenty's plan.