The Coming Regulatory Onslaught – Risks and Opportunities

I recently looked at the House Freedom Caucus’s list of regulatory changes that they are seeking in their First 100 Days plan – all 20 pages and 228 of them in small print. In case you don’t know, the Freedom Caucus is the band of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives who call the tune that Speaker Paul Ryan dances to. Clearly, if the rules they want to repeal go through, there will be a sweeping mess that most Trump voters did not bargain for.

Of course, the Freedom Caucus is calling for things like repealing all the regulations protecting immigrants and their kids from deportation. Terrible, but no surprise. But how about eliminating food safety inspections for seafood or adult care homes, or the nutritional requirements for the school lunch and breakfast programs?  Or requiring accurate labels of origin for imported meats — might be nice to know where our food is coming from, no?

Repealing rules governing women in combat, bathrooms for transgender and gender-non-conforming students, conservation standards, tobacco warnings, Medicare, protecting the food supply “against intentional adulteration,” emergency preparedness, effectiveness of medications, protecting workers from breathing silica dust, oil drilling on public lands, public transportation safety, air quality, and on and on. And they want to bring back the Global Gag Rule, which would deny family planning funds for international health groups that talk about or refer for abortions, even with their own money.

In short, there is an organizing campaign to be launched to fight each and every one of these rules and litigation to file, too, probably. In designing your campaigns beware not to get down into the weeds on any one thing, rather, use these regulatory attacks as evidence in a larger campaign to, say, “endanger your children’s health and safety.” Or, make clear that if the Republicans get their way, our medicines, what we eat, drink, and breathe would more likely harm us than help us. Keep the argument at a high level if you want to engage potential supporters. As in the immortal words of that great philosopher song-writer of yesteryear, Burl Ives, “Watch the donut, not the hole.”