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Lobbyists on the take, crying babies, and arbitrary power

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From the Washington Examiner: how lobbyists on the take are demagoguing with crying babies to give arbitrary powers to bureaucracy without acknowledging what they want.

Is the American Lung Association EPA's chief lobbyist?

By: Ron Arnold | 08/04/11 8:05 PM

If you've watched TV this past week, you've probably seen "the Red Carriage television advertisement" being run over and over and over.

The sound track consists of a pitiful asthmatic infant wheezing and coughing alarmingly enough to jolt any parent into emergency mode. But what you see is only a side view of the red baby buggy in one place after another, never who or what's in it.

The quick images jump from the red baby buggy beside the Washington Monument, to the red baby buggy outside a congressional building, to the red baby buggy in the halls of Congress, and finally the red baby buggy on the Capitol steps, the invisible baby coughing and wheezing and crying all the way.

Last scene: As the American flag waves before the shining Capitol dome, a mommy's voice instructs us, "Congress can't ignore the facts. More pollution means more childhood asthma attacks. Log on to LungUSA.org and tell Washington: Don't weaken the Clean Air Act."

The press release accompanying the ad said the American Lung Association produced it to "thwart congressional attacks on the Clean Air Act." ALA's website says, "We are fighting to ensure EPA has the legal authority and necessary funding to continue to protect public health."

You have to concede that this ad is a masterpiece of lobbying. It made me want to grab that poor baby and rush to the nearest medical help. Too bad it's nothing but cunning propaganda.

This "Crusade against Congress" has nothing to do with childhood asthma. It has everything to do with the Environmental Protection Agency's defiant end-run around Congress to expand the Clean Air Act with unauthorized CO2 regulations that the Senate rejected in 2008 by killing the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill.

That defeat prompted President Obama to tell the nation that if he couldn't impose his climate change agenda legislatively, he'd do it administratively, with regulations and directives.

In response, many in Congress are fed up with the EPA's rogue agency behavior, and have proposed defunding its unauthorized regulations. One congressman has even proposed abolishing the EPA altogether.

So the Red Carriage ad is not about protecting public health. It's about protecting EPA's power. And it's about the American Lung Association acting like EPA's chief lobbyist.

That doesn't look good because the EPA paid the American Lung Association's Washington headquarters $7.7 million, according to the EPA's website. here (http://yosemite.epa.gov/oarm/igms_egf.nsf/Reports/Non-Profit+Grants?OpenView).

The EPA website also shows the agency paid $20.4 million taxpayer dollars to 61 American Lung Association affiliates. That looks like collusion and conflict of interest to me.

Not that ALA needs the money. The group's Internal Revenue Service Form 990 shows that 2010 revenue was $47.7 million, and only $796,150 of that came from government grants. (Where's that $7.7 million?) ALA's president and chief executive officer, Charles D. Connor, received compensation in excess of $370,000.

These well-off people manipulate our emotions to bolster crumbling confidence in an agency running on ideology rather than fact. It's ironic that the Red Carriage ad's mommy voice tells us that "Congress can't ignore the facts. More pollution means more childhood asthma attacks."

Scientists disagree. Two Australian immunologists, Kendle M. Maslowski and Charles R. Mackay, wrote early this year in the journal Nature Immunology:

"The hygiene hypothesis is now the prevailing explanation for the increase in asthma and atopic disorders in Western countries. It suggests that excess cleanliness in the environment has led to a decrease in the number of infectious stimuli needed for proper development of the immune system."

Listen up, mommy: EPA can't ignore the facts. Excess cleanliness in the environment means more childhood asthma attacks.

Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

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