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The New York Times this morning reports that the Bush administration plans to unveil a 14-point program that would, if adopted, improve the product safety of items imported from foreign countries, including food.

According to the Times story, “A White House official said a major part of the plan would entail stationing inspectors in foreign countries to examine drugs, food and other potentially dangerous products before they were shipped to American shores. The official said that with $2 trillion in imports annually, inspections at the ports had become ineffective.

“The official said the plan would give the agencies the authority to certify the safety of products and to list certified products on a Web site that could be viewed by consumers.

“By adopting a system of government-sponsored certifications and relying on various industries to police themselves, the official said, the plan would enable inspectors to focus on particular companies and industries with particularly dangerous products or checkered safety records.

“The plan would give the drug and consumer protection agencies stronger authority to issue mandatory recalls and would propose steeper penalties on importers of goods that violated American safety laws.”

The Times notes that some regulations could be put into being by the Bush administration without Congressional approvals, but that some would need to ratified by the Congress. The question is whether House and Senate Democrats decide to introduce their own proposals, and how much they have in common with what the White House wants.

KC's View:
It is, after all, an election year, and everybody will be jostling for position.

I do have one question, prompted by the Times notation that if any of these proposals are adopted, they will require significant increases in the budgets of both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and he Consumer products Safety Commission. Since we all know that nobody is going to raise taxes in an election year – not to pay for the war, not to improve veterans’ care, not to insure imported product safety, not to do anything – here is my question:

Where will the money come from?

Another question:

If there is no money, aren’t these efforts – both on the part of the Republican White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress – just cynical attempts to curry favor with the voters?

Just asking.