Friday, June 30, 2017

GUEST POST >> Trump’s Plan for Consumers: Death by a Thousand Cuts

Are Consumers Being Trumped by Policy?

The following is a guest post authored by Lindsey Pasieka, a Consumer Rights Investigator with If you are interested in doing a guest post with Political Heat, please click the Contact link above. 

The metaphor is gruesome, I know. But today, so is the outlook for consumers in America. With the AHCA vote put on hold once again (because not everyone thinks it is okay to strip 22 million Americans of their healthcare) our nation sits on the fence between defending and decimating consumer protections.

Donald Trump, however, has already made his stance clear. He stands to the side with Big Business, Big Pharma and Big Losses for the public.

Already, President Trump has shown his disregard for the average American in his FY18 budget, which presents cuts to some of our most important health and safety agencies. For example, the FDA’s budget stands to be cut by $854 million, a deficit that would be covered by increased user fees placed on the shoulders of drug manufacturers.

Perhaps this is a burden easily taken on by Pfizer and similar household names. However, the hiked fees could trample smaller, innovative companies seeking to bring new solutions to the world of medications, stifling their product offerings and thereby preserving the profit margin of current industry moguls.

Trump has often talked about reducing regulations that he considers “overkill” in both drug and agriculture. What you might not know is that those reductions include a $228 million cut in farm programs that, in addition to maintaining a high standard for food quality, offer assistance to smaller farms and organic farmers making their way into the market. If that isn’t enough, reports that "Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in May rescinded rules in the School Lunch Program that required the use of whole grains and fat-free, white-only milk and a second round of sodium reductions."

In plain terms, the Trump administration is stamping out opportunities for eco-friendly, health-focused producers while blatantly allowing schools to provide less healthful options to our kids every day.

Of course, it’s not enough to put a pillow over the face of market innovators — the GOP has attacked consumers directly as well. With their oxymoronic Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, the administration has made it much more difficult for consumers to seek justice when Big Business or Big Pharma missteps. To create a class, citizens must now prove they have the same “type and scope of injury.”

So if plaintiff #1 was exposed to talcum powder by her mother using baby powder on her as an infant, and plaintiff #2 used the powder to help reduce chafing while training for a 5K, and both have now been diagnosed with ovarian cancer caused by the talcum powder, they cannot band together to seek reparations. Even if both women had the same “type and scope of injury,” ovarian cancer can lie dormant for years. Since litigators have recently proposed changing the statutes of limitation for these cases from 10 to 3 years, these women would be unable to fight for justice if their diagnosis came too late.

As of today, Donald Trump’s administration isn’t quite sure where it lands on health care just yet. But they continue to be complacent in supporting Big Business and Big Pharma over the small businesses that truly make America great. They care more about profits in the food industry than promoting health standards, despite a raging obesity epidemic and the climate benefits of innovative, organic farming practices.

And when they’re done picking the bones of federal agencies, they have no problem targeting consumer rights directly. So death by a thousand cuts may sound ugly, messy, or painful. But there’s one thing the threat isn’t: fake.

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