U.S. Chamber of Commerce Takes Its Anti-Regulatory Road Show to Posh Atlanta Hotel, Attacks Standards That Protect Georgia Families

On Oct. 27, Political Celebrity Andy Card Will Be Selling Wrong Message on Public Safeguards

October 27, 2011

Contact: Rich Robinson, Public Citizen, (202) 588-7773 or rrobinson@citizen.org
Brian Gumm, OMB Watch, (202) 683-4812 or bgumm@ombwatch.org

ATLANTA – When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce brings its anti-regulatory “road show” to the Omni Hotel in Atlanta today, local business leaders will hear from Andy Card, White House chief of staff under former President George W. Bush. He will offer up a false choice between job growth and protecting families and communities from harm. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) urges Atlantans and residents of Georgia to support strong public safeguards and reject corporate interests that would jeopardize public protections.

With a couple of political celebrities to sell its pro-Big Business agenda (the Chamber also is paying former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh from Indiana to spread its propaganda), the Chamber is trying to push the message that the federal government has no role in ensuring clean water, safe workplaces, a secure financial system and food that is safe to eat. The American people know better.

Keeping a strong regulatory system in place is crucial to preventing serious illness or even death, and nowhere is that more evident than the current outbreak of Listeria. Foodborne illnesses affect millions of Americans each year, too often with fatal results. “Self-regulation” does not work.

In 2009, Atlanta resident Margo Moskowitz contracted a near-fatal case of E. coli due to one bite of contaminated cookie dough.

“It caused me to spend almost a week in the hospital, fail summer classes and miss time of a valued internship,” Moskowitz said. “That was just the beginning of a year of hospitals, doctors, stomach aches and invasive procedures. Even today, I still struggle with more than average stomach aches.

“And I am not alone in this,” she continued. “Forty-eight million Americans are sickened each year. One hundred and twenty-eight thousand are hospitalized like I was. Three thousand die. Food safety rules are too weak. Between medical costs and lost productivity, illnesses cost a huge amount: $152 billion dollars each year. We need a strong system of safeguards to ensure that food corporations do not poison people. We need the government to work with us and help protect us.”

With the economy in a lethargic recovery, the Chamber has been attempting to use anxiety about the economy to sell its message that regulations “impose heavy burdens on job creators.” McClatchy News Service recently surveyed owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they thought they were being “choked by regulation.” Not one of the owners complained about regulation in their industries, “and most seemed to welcome it,” McClatchy reported.

“What we need as business owners is customers, not Congress stripping away the public safeguards that keep our air clean and our water and food safe,” said Celia Tully, chief marketing officer at Natural Body International, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that owns several day spas in the region. “At our business, reducing the regulation on the spa industry would be akin to allowing spa technicians to practice without a state license. The vetting and credentialing, at the state level, of all spa technicians ensures the public that those practicing within our industry have received the appropriate training and education in their given field and have passed an exam demonstrating their competency. We welcome the rules that allow us to be responsible corporate citizens and valued members of our community.”

Added Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, “Campaigning against regulations may offer lucrative consulting jobs for Andy Card, but it will do nothing to address the nation’s jobs crisis. Given how deregulation spurred the Wall Street crash and the ensuing Great Recession, there’s every reason to believe Card is effectively advocating for more job loss.”

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards maintains that the Wall Street financial collapse, the BP oil spill disaster, the Massey mine explosion, recalls of Chinese toys due to lead paint and outbreaks of E. coli and Listeria are all examples of the cost of deregulation and the need for strong public oversight of corporations.

“Andy Card is very familiar with the ways of Washington,” said OMB Watch President Katherine McFate. “He knows that these assertions of ‘overregulation’ are the same old complaints the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recycles every few years, regardless of the economic situation. It’s sad to see someone who was once committed to government service working for a project designed to undermine the environmental, health and safety standards that protect the people of Illinois and all Americans.”

For more information, visit www.ChamberSnakeOilTour.org and www.SensibleSafeguards.org.

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, along with concerned individuals who believe that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For more information about the coalition, go to www.sensiblesafeguards.org