Rep. Cantor (E-VA) has introduced the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act. Sounds like a good thing, doesn't it, all full of "reform" and "opportunity" and perhaps even "nutrition" and work"? Well, it's not: Mr. Cantor says the bill (currently not available for review on the Thomas or Govtrack websites) would find food stamp cuts, er, efficiencies by eliminating a) waivers for work requirements and b) "loopholes" in income and asset tests. Still sound good, all corruption-fighty and stuff? Problem is that most states don't operate the programs with which food stamp citizens would fulfill the "work requirements" -- and that, not "corruption," is why our government waives the requirements in the first place. And, as I've said before, "asset tests" tend to have a rosy view of how quickly one can turn "assets" into actual, usable cash. Make no mistake, this bill is cruel to the good and decent Americans who need it most -- this, after the House actually increased big corporate farm subsidies in its food-stamp-free version of the farm bill. So NETWORK, the national Catholic social justice lobby, helps you tell your Congressfolk to reject these cruel food stamp cuts.
Meanwhile, you may recall that Congress tackled the medical device approval process in 2012 -- and you may also recall that, despite an unusually high number of news stories in the "liberal" media about folks whose medical devices failed on them and caused them further pain and hardship, Congress didn't dare require that medical devices actually be tested before they go to market. (And yes, 9 out of 10 Americans surveyed wanted pre-market testing, too. It's amazing how little Congress listens to its owners, the American people.) But Consumers Union has proposed another way forward: making medical device corporations warranty their products, so that if a hip or knee replacement fails (and they do fail!), at least it won't cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace it. Consumers Union directs its email tool (which you may find here) at the CEOs of the six largest medical implant manufacturers; I guess they're not directing it at Congress because they have no hope Congress will do its job, and I can sympathize with that view, even if I can't endorse it. Still, CEOs don't like bad publicity. And, as Consumers Union points out, even toasters have warranties.
Finally, S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, might actually cut pollution, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the effects of climate change -- but the Senate is, as we speak, mulling amendments that could give dirty energy corporations all sorts of welfare handouts and thus mitigate the bill's good works, so the Environmental Defense Fund helps you tell your Senators to reject any amendments to S. 1392 that would help out corporate CEOs at the expense of the air we all breathe and the water we all drink. It's not hard to imagine what sort of pro-pollution amendments we might see, because we've seen a lot of them already. Remember the Murkowski bill from 2010 that would have prevented the EPA from regulating carbon emissions? Or the Rand Paul bill from 2011 that would have prevented the EPA from regulating cross-state air pollution? Or the Inhofe bill from 2012 that would have struck the EPA's then-new mercury and air toxics rules? These are the kinds of things to which our right-wingers could hold an energy efficiency bill for American buildings hostage. But we're not hostages. We're Americans.