Sunday, August 15, 2004

Good news from OSHA

The Washington Post has an in-depth article on OSHA under the Bush administration. Here are my favorite excerpts:
In the past 3 1/2 years, OSHA, the branch of the Labor Department in charge of workers' well-being, has eliminated nearly five times as many pending standards as it has completed. It has not started any major new health or safety rules, setting Bush apart from the previous three presidents, including Ronald Reagan.
Since the younger Bush took office, federal agencies have begun roughly one-quarter fewer rules than Clinton and 13 percent fewer than Bush's father during comparable periods.
John D. Graham, who holds the same job [deputy budget director for information and regulatory affairs] in the Bush White House, said regulations are "a form of unfunded mandate that the federal government imposes on the private sector or on state or local governments."
A few months later, Graham, the White House's top regulatory official, was alerting agencies that they would face closer scrutiny from the OMB when they proposed new rules. The day after he was confirmed by the Senate, he sent the first of 14 letters to agencies saying they had failed to prove the need for regulations they had proposed. That was more than had been sent during Clinton's eight years.
At OSHA, The Post's analysis found, the rules the agency has proposed are narrower than most of those it has eliminated. Thirteen of the 24 proposals it has canceled since Bush took office fall into a category the government classifies as "economically significant," meaning they would cost or save the economy at least $100 million. None of the 16 standards OSHA has proposed during that time falls in that group.
This stuff is pocket change next to Bush's expansion of Medicare, but I think I'd better savor this good news before reverting to my usual state, pining for seemingly unreachable ideals like leaving intrastate workplace regulations to the states, Tenth-Amendment-style.

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