Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who succeeded George W. Bush, announced that he'll be joining the list of GOP presidential candidates last Saturday. And he wasted no time in trying to set himself apart from the pack by outlining some extreme, Tea Party-approved policy ideas. First up? Put a moratorium on all regulations. As in, preventing the FDA from regulating potentially poisonous substances in food. Or stopping the EPA from calling out power plants that are illegally emitting too much toxic pollution.
Needless to say, this is a pretty scary idea. The video above shows Perry making his statement to MSNBC. Brad Johnson at Think Progress Green details some more of the fallout of his would-be regulation moratorium:
Under such a moratorium, the Food and Drug Administration would stop approving new drugs and preventing human experimentation; the USDA would stop checking for food safety; the EPA would stop monitoring for poisons in drinking water; the Library of Congress would stop loaning materials to blind people; the NTSB would stop investigating airplane accidents; HHS would end Medicare payments; no more patents, copyrights, or trademarks would be issued; DHS would stop protecting chemical facilities from terrorist attacks; the Treasury would stop printing currency; financial sanctions on hostile nations like North Korea and Iran would end; and the Federal Reserve System would shut down.The list, of course, could go on. And on. More important than citing all the havoc such a move would make, perhaps, is understanding how a supposedly mainstream candidate could make such an extreme policy proposal. And the answer is, by and large: ignorance.
The GOP, especially its hard-right Tea Party wing, has spent much of the last year or so hammering the government (and the EPA in particular) with "anti-regulation" talking points. It's one of the key, go-to sound bytes Republicans use to demonstrate the alleged tyranny of big government: How the EPA is "regulating" too much and it's "killing jobs and the economy." The EPA is "regulation-happy" or "over-regulating" etc.
Now, the hardcore right-wing in which this phraseology resonates probably has little knowledge of what the regulations they're railing against actually pertain to. My hunch is that if you ask a random Tea Partier to name three things the EPA regulates that "kill jobs" they'd be at a loss.
No, "regulation" has just been adopted as one of many anti-Obama buzzwords, primarily through good ol' fashioned repetition by politicians and conservative pundits. And that's why Rick Perry can say, on national television, that his plan for the nation is to by and large abandon the rule of law. My guess is Perry doesn't really grasp what constitutes a "regulation" either -- he just means "all that bad stuff that the EPA does that everyone seems to hate". In a sane media and political environment, the very concept of ending all regulations would be treated as outright idiotic -- dangerous even. This is, after all, an outright anarchist idea: Abolishing all the public protections that have made the nation a safer and fairer place to live.
And I don't think I'm alone in saying that it's pretty disturbing that a "mainstream" GOP front-runner for president can publicly articulate such an idea -- and have it taken seriously.
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