Protective pressure

Public outcry keeps some of Obama's decisions in check -- for now

You won’t find many more voices stronger than ours when it comes to fighting for children’s safety.


But the government clearly was poking around in the wrong place when it thought for a second that it would be a good idea to superimpose child labor laws onto family farms.

Under increasing public pressure – we’ll revisit the phrase “public pressure” shortly – the Obama administration has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have drastically changed the types of chores that could be performed by young farm workers.

The rule would have banned children younger than 16 from using power-driven farm equipment and prevented those younger than 18 from working in silos, feed lots and stockyards.

In other words, the owner of a small family farm wouldn’t legally be able to, say, ask his 15-year-old son to drive a small tractor back to the equipment shed, or his 13-year-old daughter to lead a calf at a livestock auction.

Thankfully, after an outcry from farm families, advocates and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, the administration backed down Thursday.

“It’s good the Labor Department rethought the ridiculous regulations it was going to stick on farmers and their families,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “To even propose such regulations defies common sense and shows a real lack of understanding as to how the family farm works.”

Such a rule wasn’t even necessary. The federal government can pitch in with state and national farm agencies to effect change and improve work safety without adding another layer of bureaucracy, and without tearing apart traditional roles within hard-working farm families.

But getting back to that phrase “public pressure.” That was the only reason the Obama administration retreated from this proposed rule – not because it realized how misguided and ill-conceived the rule was.

That’s chilling.

Now cast your mind forward to the possibility that President Obama will be re-elected. He and his operatives no longer will have to pander to voters to get support, or back off from unpopular decisions to stay in voters’ good graces. What then?

Just what will the Obama administration try to perpetrate in a second term?

We’re getting a taste of that now. In an April 22 story, The New York Times barely could contain its giddiness on what Obama has been doing to skirt Congress – firing off executive orders and other policy decisions. Remember, this is the same Obama who, as a presidential candidate, dished out criticism against President George W. Bush about supposedly flouting the role of Congress.

Now, Obama is all for it. Who needs bipartisanship? He’s a fan of what the Times calls “executive unilateralism.” People living under dictatorships might have another term for it.

“If Obama does win a second term,” warns Conn Carroll of The (Washington) Examiner, “most of it will be spent in front of the Supreme Court defending his unilateral use of legislative and executive power.”

In his first term, Obama has presided over unprecedented government spending and government control over our lives. It has flattened our economy and pummeled American optimism.

Public pressure could be the last remaining protective barrier against a tsunami of nightmarish presidential edicts.

Will that protection be there in a second Obama term? And if it is there, will it be heeded?



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