March 2011

From the Officers
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This ‘Issa' Bad Deal

Don't be shocked if in the coming months we see workers' retirement benefits slashed, job sites becoming more dangerous and family dinners threatened by bacteria from food that is no longer being inspected by federal agencies.

Rep. Darrell Issa, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, solicited more than 150 corporations and trade groups for suggestions about "onerous" regulations.

The Business Roundtable—a group of CEOs of major U.S. corporations—asked Issa to target "three major areas of greatest concern: environmental regulation, financial reform, and health care and retirement benefits."

The wish list for the National Association of Manufacturers, which spent millions to fight the Employee Free Choice Act and promotes outsourcing, includes rolling back OSHA provisions.

Other groups advocated slashing regulations for lead paint levels, food and water safety, pollution standards and even flammability tests for children's mattresses. As one writer for Think Progress put it, it's almost like Issa outsourced his own job to the Big Business lobby.

The congressman defends his move as necessary to ensure job creation and fight back against what he calls "governmental overreach."

If anyone runs the risk of being too grabby, it's large corporations, not elected officials.

For his part, President Obama addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions in untraceable funds to defeat worker-friendly candidates last year. He reminded Chamber members that "America's businesses have a responsibility to recognize that there are … safeguards and standards that are necessary to protect American people from harm or exploitation."

Company success and worker success aren't mutually exclusive. But Issa is going too far on behalf of the wealthy and powerful.

Our question to Issa and his pals should be: "What kind of country do you guys want us living in?"


Also: Hill: Imported from the U.S.A.

Lindell K. Lee
International Secretary-Treasurer