Even during times when the White House has been the residence of a Republican President have we not heard such rhetoric over the little agency called OSHA. Its budget, after all, is roughly $500 million. Big reg brother EPA runs with a budget of more than $7 billion.
The new generation of House Republicans, inspired if not threatened by the national Tea Party movement, are acting like teenagers, hormones at a fever pitch, who’ve just been given the keys to the car. Their rhetoric is all “take no prisoners.” It plays well with voters back home who want to see less government, less spending, less regulation, and many more jobs.
So the House, thanks to its GOP majority and frenetic freshmen representatives, passed a funding bill to get the federal government through the current fiscal year, ending October 31, 2011, that slashes $60 billion from the fed budget.
OSHA would lose about one-fifth of its budget, or about $100 million.
EPA would stand to lose almost half of its budget, a cut of $3 billion, that’s with a B, out of its $7.3 billion in funding.
So what happens next? Eventually the wailing and nashing of teeth over supposed job-killing regs will die down, likely around the time in early March when differences between the House and Senate budget plans will require loud talk to take a back seat to backroom deal-making.
And when it comes to cutting deals, it’s the Senate that will act like the adults who take the keys away from the kids. OSHA and MSHA and NIOSH and EPA will all stand to lose dollars, but nothing of the magnitude now being shouted about by the GOP and decried by organized labor and safety advocacy groups.
Washington is more Hollywood than Hollywood in some respects. Elected representatives must play to the crowd, the voters who put them in office. So they follow a script sure to please constituents back home. But it’s theatre. Hearings are scripted theatre. Bellicose speeches are theatre. In Hollywood, power brokers seldom cross each other in public exchanges. Rabble rousers in Tinseltown often end up blacklisted and searching for work in Europe.
So take all the current chatter about 8,000 fewer OSHA inspections, OSHA’s website going dark, and national air pollution rivaling China’s with the proverbial grain of cynicism. It’s simply the way Washington works, or doesn’t work.