Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani (R) is basing his presidential campaign on his so-called Twelve Commitments to the American People. A number of them make me particularly nervous, especially as we learn of the fragile state of some fundamental public health systems. Problems including lead-laced children’s toys, coal mining disasters, e.coli 0157:H7-contaminated foods and unsafe pharmaceuticals come to mind. Candidate Guiliani says he plans to:
- “Reduce the federal civilian workforce by 20% through attrition and retirement”
- “Require agencies to identify at least 5% to 20% in spending reductions”
- “Require mandatory sunset clauses for all Federal programs”
- “Within the next decade…some 300,000 bureaucrats will retire. Replace only half [of them], making the Federal government smaller and smarter through increased use of technology and privatization.”
These kinds of slogans might sound appealing to true believers on the campaign trail, but how would privatization at MSHA affect miners’ safety and health? Does he plan to sunset existing programs like OSHA and EPA? How would failing to replace half of the FSIS inspectors (Food Safety Inspection Service) compromise the quality of our food supply? How would the safety of children’s toys and other consumer products be ensured with a 20% budget reduction at the CPSC—an agency which already only has one inspector for toys and can’t keep pace with imports from China.
During Wednesday’s CNN YouTube debate (Nov 28), I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a few astute video-questioners will force Mr. Guiliani to elaborate on his plans. I hope a few will insist that he get specific about his cost-cutting proposal.
It seems easy for politicians to toss around catchy slogans and pander to anti-government types. But when it’s their child who swallows Magnetix pieces, their wife who is disabled by a preventable workplace injury, or their father who suffers a severe adverse event from a heavily-marketed pharamaceutical, they might change their tune about alleged over zealous public health agencies.