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From: TSS (
Date: September 27, 2004 at 7:44 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 09:50:57 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Published Monday, September 27, 2004

Agencies Postpone Issuing New Rules Until After Election

New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 - After a case of mad cow disease surfaced in
Washington State late last year, federal regulators vowed to move
swiftly to adopt rules to reduce the risks of further problems and
restore confidence in the nation's meat industry.

Some rules were adopted this year. But a few weeks ago, the Food and
Drug Administration, after heavy lobbying from the beef and feed
industries, took steps to delay - and to the concern of food safety
groups, possibly kill - completion of the most controversial and perhaps
most expensive proposal for cattle companies.

That proposal would sharply restrict what could be included in animal
feed. Shortly after the administration slowed its consideration of the
rule, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association broke its nonpartisan
tradition and endorsed President Bush for re-election.

The F.D.A. decision was part of a broader pattern.

In recent weeks, federal agencies across the vast Washington bureaucracy
have delayed completion of a range of proposed regulations from food
safety and the environment to corporate governance and
telecommunications policy until after Election Day, when regulatory
action may be more politically palatable.

The delays come after heavy lobbying by industry organizations,
including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Business
Roundtable, the cattle and feed industries, the four regional Bell
operating telephone companies, big health care providers and timber and
mining interests.

Some groups have been making their case for regulations that would make
it easier for miners and timber companies to develop forests, while
others have been advocating wholesale telephone rate rules that could
significantly increase prices to consumers. Many corporate executives,
meanwhile, have been arguing against a proposal that would give
shareholders the ability to remove directors of troubled companies.

Officials have decided to wait until after Election Day to respond to an
appeals court decision that struck down rules that would make it easier
for the largest media conglomerates to grow larger. And they are not
expected to issue rules that will determine prescription rates and
coverage under the new Medicare law until after the presidential election.

Both industry lobbyists and their critics say that the re-election of
President Bush would probably lead to the adoption of some regulations
favorable to industry and the rejection or watering down of others that
industry considers objectionable. Consumer groups, environmental
organizations and food safety experts, meanwhile, say that delays could
lead to significantly weaker rules that could increase prices on some
products, reduce safety and relax environmental protections.

While the delay of completing rules, known to lobbyists and policy
makers as "slow rolling,'' is common in a campaign season, some
environmental groups and consumer advocates say this year is different.

"Generally, regulatory submissions often get pushed off in election
years,'' said Gene Kimmelman, a senior director of public policy at
Consumers Union.

"What is unusual this time,'' he added, "is the clear pattern of holding
back regulatory decisions that will benefit the largest industry players
and will drive up prices and market place risks for consumers, ranging
from telephones to drugs to the risks of contaminants of food. The
pattern of slow rolling will ultimately benefit the largest players and
hit consumers in the pocketbook.''

Administration officials have denied such consequences, although they
acknowledge that they are generally inclined in each instance to take
the least restrictive approach and that they have been sympathetic to
the concerns of business interests. They also say that reducing
regulations reduces costs to industry and, thus, leads to lower prices
for consumers. The administration's critics say that although John
Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, has taken a different
position on some of the regulations, electing him might not affect the
outcome of some proposals because the Bush administration would have
almost three months after Election Day to complete the rules.

"There could be a fire sale such as we've never seen post-election,''
said Marty Hayden, legislative director for Earthjustice, one of several
environmental groups that is opposing a proposal to make it easier to
build roads in millions of acres of forests. Last week, the
administration announced that it was extending the comment period for
the proposal so that the final regulation could not be adopted before
Election Day.

Slow rolling takes place before a presidential election because it is an
axiom of political life that agencies take no action that could give an
issue to the opponents of the incumbent administration.

After an election, by contrast, agency work often accelerates,
particularly in anticipation of a change in administration. Indeed,
nearly four years ago, the Bush administration - in its first two hours
in office - imposed a brief regulatory moratorium to take stock of the
proposals that had been rushed through agencies in the final days of the
Clinton administration.

While that rhythm to rule making is inevitable, some experts say that
this year there are an unusually large number of controversial
proposals, and that they reflect both the tightness in the polls and the
strong industry ties to the White House. Those groups and others have
prevailed upon policy makers to delay some decisions in the hopes of
killing some proposals and relaxing some other rules after the election.

Blair Levin, a telecommunications analyst at Legg Mason who was a senior
official at the Federal Communications Commission in the Clinton
administration, said that in telecommunications policy, he "cannot
recall a time when there were these many important things waiting to be
acted on.''

He said he expected that final rules on wholesale telephone rates, which
will be completed after the election, would result in price increases in
the range of 15 percent for existing customers, as well as price
increases for new customers.

Officials at several agencies said they had moved to reduce the profile
of controversial rule makings as the presidential campaign moves into
the home stretch.

"The president sets the focus right now,'' said Michael D. Gallagher, an
assistant commerce secretary who heads the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration. "That's the way it should be, and it's
not for us to get into old battles. The president should drive the
message and we should be reinforcing that. Hopefully we'll be able to do
that for the next 60 days. After that, there's a very full plate of
issues to be addressed.''


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