March 7, 2011
By Brian Naylor
Congressional Republicans are promising to scrub the government for what they say are “job killing” regulations. One of their primary targets is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
Republicans say OSHA enacts expensive rules without regard to their effect on business. They’ve proposed cutting its budget this year by 20 percent, a reduction the director says would be devastating to the agency’s efforts to protect worker safety.
OSHA has long been on the front edge of the divide between labor and management, and Democrats and Republicans. Where during the Bush administration the agency stressed voluntary compliance with worker safety standards on the part of business, the Obama administration stepped up enforcement. It hired more inspectors and increased OSHA’s budget.
Now, Republicans in control of the House are trying to push the pendulum back. As part of their drive to cut about $61 billion from federal spending in the current fiscal year, they’ve targeted OSHA for a $99 million reduction.
“The Republicans have proposed a 20 percent cut and given [that] half a year’s over, that really means a 40 percent cut,” OSHA administrator David Michaels says. “It would really have a devastating effect on all of our activities.”