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Who Needs Lobbyists? Darrell Issa Asks GOP's Corporate Masters for a Wish-List of Deregulation

Issa wants to hand the government over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a who's who of corporate America.

Newly emboldened as chair of the House's key investigative committee, Congressman Darrell Issa, a conservative California Republican, this week sent letters to more than 150 business lobby groups, asking them to identify government rules that they want eliminated

Issa wants to hand the government over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a who's who of corporate America. The new Republican Congress is their opportunity to get rid of those pesky environmental laws, consumer product safety laws, and even rules to prevent another Wall Street financial train wreck.

Issa plans to hold hearings of his Oversight and Government Reform Committee to explore how he can help corporate America rid itself of "burdensome government regulations." According to Politico,  Issa asked businesses, including Duke Energy, FMC Corp., Toyota and Bayer, to supply him with their wish lists. He also sent letters to industry lobby groups including the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Association of American Railroads, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) and entities representing health care and telecommunication providers.

It isn't hard to imagine what that their wish list will look like. Indeed, it hasn't changed much in the past century. The specific bills and issues ebb and flow, but the business mantra is always the same. Get government off our backs. Let the "free" market determine what we make and how we make it. We can police ourselves. Too many government rules kills jobs.

Issa is only the most recent incarnation of conservative members of Congress who hold hearings to give their corporate allies a platform to warn about the disastrous consequences of government activism.

Let's go back in time and see what corporate leaders have predicted about proposed government rules seeking to make business more socially responsible:

  • In 1906, Thomas Wilson, an executive from the Morris and Company, a large meatpacking firm (a co-founder of the National Packing Company or "Beef Trust,") opposed the Meat Inspection Act, designed to protect consumers from contaminated meat. "We are opposed to a bill...that will put our business in the hands of theorists, chemists, sociologists, etc.," he said," and the management and control taken away from the men who have devoted their lives to the upbuilding and perfecting of this great American industry."

  • In 1906, the Proprietary Association, a lobby for medicine companies, warned that the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 "would practically destroy the sale of proprietary remedies in the United States."


  • In 1933 Clarence E. Martin, President of the American Bar Association, denounced child labor laws as "a communistic effort to nationalize children, making them primarily responsible to the government instead of to their parents. It strikes at the home. It appears to be a definite positive plan to destroy the Republic and substitute a social democracy."


  • In 1937, when FDR proposed the nation's first federal minimum wage, the National Association of Manufacturers warned that it "constitutes a step in the direction of communism, bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism."


  • Opposing the first federal law to require the testing of drugs before they could be sold to consumers (the 1938 Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act), the New York Board of Trade's Drug, Chemical and Allied Trades section warned that "[The bill] will seriously affect employment and morale in the industries indicated. It will put thousands of men and women out of work. It will close dozens of manufacturing plants and hundreds of stores... It will hurt thousands... It will help none." The National Association of Retail Druggists claimed the bill would "wreck the industry of pharmacy."

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