We’re pleased to run this editorial from Morgan Statt from ConsumerSafety.org; TheLiberalOC welcomes guest editorials on a variety of subjects by submitting an abstract and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s news cycle seems to have one thing in common. There is a constant stream of content focused on analyzing President Trump’s every move. From comments on the awkward distance between POTUS and Pope Francis to an in-depth analysis as to whether or not the President shoved the leader of Montenegro out of the way, there’s no shortage of stories surrounding the literal movements of Donald Trump.
We can spend all day taking note of how Trump behaves. It provides a sort of comical relief from the often harrowing news we see on a daily basis. But, there comes a point when we need to remember that Trump isn’t just a scapegoat for our laughter. He’s our President, and the scope of changes he’d like to bring about may have a damaging effect on our very health and safety. For starters, his 2018 fiscal budget proposal should raise a giant red flag of concern for the American consumer and specifically for the California resident.
Let’s first talk about how the Environmental Protection Agency is set to face a 31% loss of funding that could have a slew of negative effects if the proposal is passed. This budget cut would not only impact the agency’s ability to clean up the country’s hazardous sites through its Superfund program, but it would also eliminate regional programs focused on restoring polluted areas. Right now, 12% of CalEPA’s budget is supported by the federal government, and a majority of the funding goes towards the State Water Resources Control Board. If the loss of funding does occur, the potential for decreased water quality and waterborne diseases becomes a real possibility since it would like be more expensive to clean up toxic streams and other polluted areas in the state.
In addition to the environmental issues that could affect consumers’ daily lives, Trump’s budget proposal calls for a cut to the National Institute of Health’s funding by $7.2 billion. The NIH carries out a multitude of research each year that has led to major medical breakthroughs and the prevention and cure of diseases. California alone receives $3.6 billion from the NIH each year, and this could put the U.S. at risk of losing its reputation as a leading biomedical research hub. It’s difficult to say just how many Americans would be affected by the lack of studies that could have changed their lives for the better.
Trump’s budget cuts also include tort reforms that would impact the ability of Americans to seek the damages they deserve for medical malpractice. With the health of the public now at stake, there’s a chance they’ll face more medical problems than before. The civil justice system has historically allowed consumers to file lawsuits against companies responsible for the manufacturing of products that caused these medical problems in the first place. But, the proposed tort reforms coupled with the recent Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act would instead lean the court system in support of defendants like physicians and hospitals, making it much more difficult for injured parties to receive the necessary reparations.
One of the reforms mentioned is a $250,000 malpractice cap on noneconomic damages that the Trump administration states will save $32 billion for the Department of Health & Human Services over the next 10 years. Although California law has this damage cap in place already, elder abuse cases are currently exempt. With the proposed reforms, this could eliminate the exemption and inhibit the relatives of nursing home residents who died from improper care from receiving the damages they deserve.
These lawsuits have also had dual effects in that they have provided both monetary compensation to families ravaged by unnecessary exposure and have prevented further use of toxic ingredients in products and workplaces. Popular examples include the millions of dollars of relief awarded to individuals who have suffered from cancers linked to talcum powder or have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that’s been tied to the inhalation of asbestos.
Trump’s budget cuts will likely put the health of millions of Americans at risk, but it’s also posed to hit the state of California particularly hard. With an entire water body of change waiting for the first ripple to be felt, Trump’s budget cuts may be the stone dropped in to do just that.