Friday, September 2, 2011

A straw too many

This might just be the straw that broke the camel's back for me.

What could be a more important job for a government than protecting the air that we breathe, making sure that it is safe to breathe and will not make us sick?  Apparently, for the Obama administration, it is more important to curry favor with the industries that pollute the air and cause untold misery to those who breathe it.  And so, Obama has decided to overrule his E.P.A. which had followed the advice of its scientific staff in setting tougher standards for air quality.

Industries, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had lobbied the White House non-stop to withdraw these standards.  Republicans had complained that the standards would be "job-killers."  Of course, they would like to see the E.P.A. shut down altogether, and if they ever have the power to do so, it will be.  Public health be damned!

One would hope that one's president would have the strength to stand up to such pressure.  One would hope that he might remember FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and, yes, LBJ, and be willing to take a strong stand on the side of an issue just because it is right, not because it is politically expedient.  With this president, one would hope in vain. He will continue to waffle on the issues, give in to pressure, and fail to protect the common good.  Next, we'll be hearing that the tar sands pipeline is going full-speed ahead, and never mind any possible risk to the environment.

Obama will say that, in a failing economy, these regulations would have been too expensive for industry, that they would have cost jobs that we cannot afford.  In other words, he's agreeing with the Republicans and their claim of  "job-killer" regulations.  I don't know why he doesn't just make it official and go ahead and announce he's switching parties.  He's certainly not any kind of Democrat that I can recognize.

As for the expense to public health that laxer standards will cause, the lives that will be lost because of breathing dirty air?  Those are acceptable costs, I guess.

UPDATE:  Today (September 3), Paul Krugman explains in his blog why this is a stupid decision based on the economics of the situation, never mind the morality and the concern for public health.  It's a triple play of a bad decision.

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