A Nov. 28 article about the Heritage Foundation's regulatory recommendations misstated a conclusion of the report, which said, "While product liability laws are far from perfect, they do make redundant much of the work of the Consumer Product Safety Commission." One of the study's authors said in an interview that the agency was unnecessary; that conclusion was mistakenly attributed to the report.
An influential conservative group has suggested that the Reagan administration initiate a new regulatory reform offensive in the next four years, eliminating some regulatory agencies and transferring their functions to the private sector while putting new administrative and congressional curbs on those regulatory agencies that remain.
The strategy recommended by the Heritage Foundation in its book, "Mandate for Leadership II: Continuing the Conservative Revolution," also urges a public relations campaign to "recapture . . . the moral high ground" on the subject of health and safety regulation.
"Any serious attempt at reform must . . . anticipate likely sources of resistance and make plans to overcome opponents of change through properly framing the issue. . . . In a number of cases [during President Reagan's first term], advocates of regulation successfully depicted the Reagan administration in brutally inhumane terms and suggested that reform efforts would sacrifice helpless women and children to evil business interests."
The regulatory chapter, authored by Catherine England with assistance from representatives of the National Association of Manufacturers, a congressional regulatory reform task force and the Council for a Competitive Economy, was released yesterday. President Reagan has credited the foundation's 1980 "Mandate" report with inspiring many of the initiatives of his first term.
The authors of this chapter sound several familiar conservative themes on the subject of regulatory reform, including scuttling the 26-year-old Delaney Amendment, which prohibits substances found to cause cancer in animals from being added to food and cosmetics, and amending dozens of laws to ensure that executive branch regulators weigh the cost of a new regulation against its assumed benefits.
However, that suggestion and another recommendation that the administration develop a workable "legislative veto" to permit Congress to control regulations seem to face some practical difficulties because of recent Supreme Court rulings.
In 1981, the court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's basic law did not permit a cost-benefit approach when regulating cotton dust, a health hazard in the textile industry. In 1983, the court struck down a legislative veto provision in an immigration law and appeared to bar similar provisions in scores of other laws.
Among the agencies the foundation recommended be abolished were the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (the job could be done by private insurers, the report said); the Consumer Product Safety Commission (product liability laws would do the job because "regulators can never hope to be as efficient as a national court system imposing judgments in . . . cases brought by consumers actually using a product") and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("firms providing workman's compensation insurance have not only the incentives but also the tools to take over much of [OSHA's] task.")
The chapter also recommended:
[Decontrolling all natural gas prices.] On Jan. 1, price controls will be removed from about half the natural gas now being marketed.
Scuttling the industry-controlled marketing orders that cover about 50 fruit and vegetable crops.
Eliminating most banking regulation.