September 16, 2007

A Return to Progressivism? [11:33 am]

I speculated on this a couple of weeks ago; interesting to see it cropping up again. Although it’s hard to cast the current president as a modern Teddy Roosevelt, the forces in play these days are positively Kolkovian: In Turnaround, Industries Seek U.S. Regulation

After years of favoring the hands-off doctrine of the Bush administration, some of the nation’s biggest industries are pushing for something they have long resisted: new federal regulations.

For toys and cars, antifreeze and fireworks, popcorn and produce and cigarettes and light bulbs, among other products, industry groups or major manufacturers are calling for federal health, safety and environmental mandates. Some of those industries are abandoning years of efforts to block such measures, often in alliance with the Bush administration, which pledged to ease what it views as costly, unnecessary rules.

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as it appears. If the opposition wants to avoid giving away the farm, here’s the aspect that ought to be fought tooth and nail (by simply asking whether a regulatory agency should be given quite this much power):

But industry officials, consumer groups and regulatory experts all agree there has been a recent surge of requests for new regulations, and one reason they give is the Bush administration’s willingness to include provisions that would block consumer lawsuits in state and federal courts.

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