Saturday, March 14, 2009

Will A Bribe Besotted Congress Ever Let Obama Really Reform The FDA?


Because of the financial meltdown and the ensuing economic catastrophe Republican orthodoxy and misrule have left the country with, when people think about the dismantling of society's regulatory protections under Bush, they tend to think of problems with banks and Wall Street. And they should. The Republican (and Blue Dog) mania for "free markets" where the predators are free to wreck society in the unfettered pursuit of ever greater profits-- the Law of the Jungle-- has been devastating for this country. But the financial markets aren't the only industries that have paid off our political class to pass laws that "looked the other way" while they enriched themselves at our expense. Today, President Obama addressed the sorry state of food safety in this country.

It's as though, we've had a collective memory loss that Upton Sinclair ever wrote The Jungle and that we demanded and got-- despite right-wing obstructionism and tears that the country would turn communist as a result-- protection from avaricious business predators. In his weekly address to the nation this morning, the president vowed to get the country back on the right course.
Describing the government’s failure to inspect 95 percent of food processing plants as “a hazard to the public health,” President Obama promised Saturday to bolster and reorganize the nation’s fractured food-safety system.

...A bipartisan chorus of powerful lawmakers in Congress has promised to enact fundamental changes in the nation’s food-protection system. On Saturday, Mr. Obama made clear that he not only supported that legislative effort but that he also might push to expand it.

Problem solved? Don't be naive. Rich, powerful forces have spent millions of dollars bribing lawmakers-- mostly Republicans, but certainly Blue Dog reactionaries like House Agriculture Committee chair like Collin Peterson as well-- to abolish regulations. And they're not going down without a fight. The Agriculture Committee is one of the most corrupt places in Congress. The Republicans on the committee are completely hopeless, each and every one of them a shrill extremist opponent of the regulatory system a shill for corporate agriculture -- from sociopaths like Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Steve King (R-IA), Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Jerry Moran (R-KS) to foxes-guarding-henhouses like Frank Lucas (R-OK), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Mike Rogers (R-AL). I wish I could say the Democrats on the committee were any better; they might actually be worse! The committee has become one of the biggest sources of financial power for the treacherous Blue Dog caucus and almost all the Democrats-- not counting new additions Eric Massa, Larry Kissell, Steve Kagen, and Mark Schauer, genuine reformers-- on the committee are Blue Dogs pledged to protect Big Business and screw consumers. Among the corrupt Blue Dogs on the committee, beyond the swimming-in-bribes chairman, are Tim Holden (Blue Dog, PA), Mike Etheridge (Blue Dog-NC), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Joe Baca (Blue Dog-CA), Dennis Cardoza (Blue Dog-CA), David Scott (Blue Dog-GA), Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), John Salazar (Blue Dog-CO), Brad Ellsworth (Blue Dog-IN), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), Earl Pomeroy (Blue Dog-ND), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), and Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD). An Agriculture Committee meeting has a quorum for a Blue Dog caucus meeting!

Since 1990 Agribusiness has "donated" $460,550,813 to federal elected officials, 68% of it to Republicans-- and is some years 75% to Republicans. But the Blue Dogs have nothing to complain about when the bribes are handed out from Big Agriculture. Although McCain has gotten the most in bribes from this sector, most of the $3,723,663 he raked in was because of the presidential race. Among current House members the biggest beneficiaries of the culture of corruption that Obama will have to face if he thinks he can really reform this area are as follows:
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- $1,559,273
Devin Nunes (R-CA)- $1,449,107
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)- $1,364,395
John Boehner (R-OH)- $1,244,813
Wally Herger (R-CA)- $1,163,058
George Radanovich (R-CA)- $1,157,691
Tom Latham (R-IA)- $1,149,125
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)- $1,119,268
Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL)- $1,055,954
Jerry Moran (R-KS)- $1,047,868
Greg Walden (R-OR)- $1,043,130
Jack Kingston (R-GA)- $1,017,098

So Obama has a great FDA head in mind, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former New York City health, with Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore health commissioner as her top deputy. I hope they're well-armed, and not just with good intentions. 76 million Americans get sick every year from contaminated food while greed-obsessed businessmen get richer and richer-- and while the politicians they bribe thrive.
Thirty-five years ago, the F.D.A. did annual inspections of about half of the nation’s food-processing facilities. Last year, the agency inspected just 7,000 of the nearly 150,000 domestic food facilities, and its oversight of foreign plants, which provide a growing share of the nation’s food supply, was even spottier.

Experts have long debated whether the F.D.A. should increase inspections or rely instead on private auditors and more detailed safety rules. By calling the limited number of government inspections an “unacceptable” public health hazard, Mr. Obama came down squarely on the side of increased government inspections.

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At 3:57 PM, Blogger JohnLloydScharf said...

What a load of partisan propaganda.


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