New York Times columnist Joe Nocera last made headlines for his August 2 rant comparing the Tea Party to terrorists. He later apologized in print. Now he's accusing the congressional G.O.P. of food terrorism. Nocera preemptively blamed Republicans in Congress for the next E.coli outbreak in his Saturday column, “Killing Jobs And Making Us Sick.”
“In January, Mr. Obama signed a food safety law that provides broad new authority to the Food and Drug Administration,” wrote Robert Pear in Friday’s Times, in an article about the Congressional appropriations mess. But House Republicans, he added, had voted “to cut the agency’s budget.”
Well, yes, in a nutshell, that is the sad story of the food safety law -- the first major change in how the government regulates food safety in over 70 years. But the way the Republicans have dealt with its funding represents more than appropriations problems. It also represents the way they’ve allowed their unyielding antitax, antispend ideology to get in the way of common sense -- and the common good.
A few weeks ago, the Senate voted to increase funding just $40 million, which still leaves the F.D.A. short. With so much chaos surrounding the appropriations process, it is impossible to know how this will play out. To put it another way, as the F.D.A. starts to carry out the new law, and industry prepares for it, there is no certainty. This, of course, is exactly what Republicans complain about when they say the Obama administration is hurting job creation.
There is certainty about one thing, though. The next time there is an E. coli outbreak, we’ll know who to blame.