The GOP War On Regulations: Weakening Public Health

August 31, 2011 12:17 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) robotic directive that federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Irene must be paid for with offsetting budget cuts rightfully grabbed the media's attention, but the political context of his statement has gone largely overlooked. Cantor announced his controversial position on Irene relief while promoting a GOP "jobs agenda" that similarly neglects the well-being of actual people in order to advance ideological policy goals.

On Monday, Cantor sent a memo to House Republicans under the subject line "Upcoming Jobs Agenda." In the memo, Cantor highlighted 10 regulations that Republicans hope to block or repeal — seven of which are related to environment. Lowering environmental standards will not address the primary reason employers are not hiring, which is a lack of demand, but it will have a significant impact on public health. For example, here is the EPA's assessment of the impact of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (or "Transport Rule"), which Cantor aims to block:

The American Public Health Association has also said the rule "could save between 14,000 and 36,000 lives every year from averted heart attacks, strokes and respiratory illnesses." Moreover, the Transport Rule and new Utility MACT standards — another one of Cantor's targets  will actually create jobs, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute:

As usual, Cantor is using "jobs" as a punch line, but his real agenda is weakening the federal government — even if that means weakening the public health of the American people, too.