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CAMPAIGN ’88 : Bush Soft on Safety?

The presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief, headed by Vice President George Bush, has been responsible for delaying and eliminating many health and safety regulations designed to protect consumers and workers, a consumer organization charged Wednesday.

Public Citizen, founded by consumer advocate Ralph Nader, issued a report accusing Bush’s task force of operating as a “conduit” for private industries seeking to escape the costs of complying with regulations such as mandatory installation of air bags and automatic safety belts in automobiles and production of infant formula that is nutritionally sound.

“George Bush was essentially the private industry’s mentor and surrogate” in fighting government health and safety regulations, Joan Clay, president of the group, told a press conference as the report was released.

The Bush presidential campaign immediately dismissed the charge as unfounded. Calling the report “one of the most outrageous pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen,” Bush campaign spokesman Mark Goodin said it amounted to “political gamesmanship.” He added: “Ralph Nader has once again proved his allegiance to the liberal left.”

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The task force was formed in 1981 by an executive order from Reagan. The order decreed that all regulations issued by federal agencies be reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget for their impact on the budget before they could be put into effect. The task force was charged with overseeing the approval process and directed to help cull out regulations that were unnecessary.

The group accused the OMB and the task force of meeting secretly with industry representatives to get their opinions of pending regulations. As a result of these meetings, the OMB sometimes refused to approve an agency’s proposed rules, the report said.


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