02.21.2019 0

Trump should end political junk science regulations by restoring scientific transparency to regulatory process

By Rick Manning

Earlier this week I joined about twenty of my conservative colleagues in Washington, D.C. and around the country in signing a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to sign an Executive Order mandating “full transparency of all scientific data and studies used to justify all pending or new regulations in the federal rulemaking process.”

During the election campaign of 2016, then-President Barack Obama rhetorically questioned the ability of candidate Trump to restore America’s manufacturing sector claiming it would take a “magic wand” to bring those jobs back.

Well, two years and a half million more manufacturing jobs later, President Trump’s “magic wand” turned out to be scissors. Scissors which cut the highest corporate tax rates in the world to incentivize bringing factories back to America. Scissors applied to bad trade deals and unfair low tariffs for countries like China who have engaged in economic warfare against America’s manufacturing sector. And maybe even more importantly, scissors to the mountains of bureaucratic red tape that had been choking out plans for new factories and production facilities while encouraging the gutting of existing ones and shipping them overseas.

President Trump’s first two years have been an economic tour d’ force bringing about 1.4 million Americans who had been left behind back into the workforce, increasing real wages minus inflation by 1.3 percent and creating an environment where record low unemployment rates have been reached for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and people with disabilities.

But on the regulatory front, there is an important step that remains to be taken. Previous administrations have used junk science to justify radical agendas designed to shut down America’s economy. Individual agencies cannot be depended upon to implement rules that prevent a recurrence of pre-determined scientific conclusions being created in order to justify politically unfeasible regulatory activity.

Quite simply, Americans deserve and need to know that the science used to justify regulatory actions is sound, and the only way to ensure this is for the scientists to be forced to show their work.  In fact, the essential element of the scientific method is reproducibility of results. The reason we know that the boiling point of water at sea level is 212 degrees Fahrenheit is because anyone can test whether that is true or not.  Similarly, making the methodology of scientific reports available for scrutiny will make certain policy makers do not pursue damaging regulatory fixes based upon false or erroneous conclusions.

David Randall, the director of research at the National Association of Scholars recently wrote in The Hill that, “America is suffering from a crisis of irreproducible science. In 2012 the biotechnology firm Amgen tried to reproduce 53 ‘landmark’ studies in hematology and oncology, but could only replicate six. That same year Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, ‘estimated that as much as 75 percent of published biomarker associations are not replicable.’”

Randall continued, “The federal government bears some blame. According to a 2015 study, government funds two-thirds of preclinical research in America and half of that research is irreproducible. Of the $28 billion our country wastes each year in irreproducible preclinical research, the government share is $19 billion.

“The federal government makes policy based on research that can’t [be] reproduce[d]. The EPA used the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to justify many costly regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan. When Dr. James Enstrom acquired the original data and conducted an independent re-analysis, he ‘found that there was no significant relationship between PM2.5 and death from all causes.’”

The bottom line is that President Trump can bring sanity back into the scientific method by restoring it when agencies are determining regulatory actions. The only people who could possibly object would be those who have made it an industry to push agenda motivated science to create public policy. Getting regulations right through transparent, reproducible science rather than continuing to rely upon politically correct pseudo-science is just plain common sense.

It is time for President Trump to act by signing an Executive Order which re-establishes scientific integrity throughout our government.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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