By PAUL THACKER
For the second week in a row, Cass Sunstein has been making news. Mr. Sunstein works for the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and was splashed across the front page of Huffington Post yesterday in a story detailing how he has been stalling new child labor rules.
Proposed by the Department of Labor, the new rules would deem some work too dangerous for minors, strengthening laws that haven't been updated in 40 years.
Cass has been sitting on the new rules for almost nine months—they are normally reviewed within 90 days and then put out for public comment. But as Cass dithers, life goes on in rural America:
Last week, two 17 year olds were critically injured in Oklahoma when they were pulled into a grain augur while on the job. Responders had to cut the augur to free the boys, who were flown to a hospital with severe leg injuries.
According to HuffPo, some safety advocates say the rules would have prevented the Oklahoma accident.
And just a few short weeks ago, Jade Garza and Hannah Kendall were electrocuted while detasseling corn in rural Illinois. They were pronounced dead at the hospital. Both girls were 14.
A group of 25 public health activists sent Cass a letter on Monday asking him to move the rules forward to protect children. The letter follows another sent to OMB a couple of weeks ago by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who demanded to know why Cass was trying to gut conflict of interest rules that have been proposed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to protect federally-funded research from undue influence.
In that letter, Senator Grassley demanded to see all communications by OMB regarding the NIH proposed rules, as well as the calendar for Cass Sunstein.In case you’re not familiar with Mr. Sunstein, he is a former Harvard law professor who is married to White House foreign policy advisor Samantha Power. For his part, Cass prefers to pontificate on abstract legal issues such as whether poor people should have to pay for safe food and water. It would seem he operates in a world far removed from grain augurs and detasseling corn.
Paul Thacker is a POGO Investigator.
Image by Flickr user bettina n.