Richard Durbin is like a hookworm that devours the heart of liberty from inside the body politic. Late on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, he offered an amendment, SA 2127 (which he has sponsored separately as a bill), to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. The FDASIA, passed on Thursday, May 24, recodified the dreadful user fee program by which the drug and medical device industries pay for the FDA’s review of its drugs and its devices, a regime that FDA Associate Director of the Office of Drug Safety David Graham has aptly described as one in which “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” The Durbin amendment was an attempt to avoid serious debate on a sweeping new investiture of oversight power to the FDA. The Durbin amendment was voted down handily, 77 to 20.
That amendment is the latest in a series of diabolical attempts by Senator Durbin (who never saw a federal regulation he did not like) to give FDA blanket authority to destroy much of the dietary supplement industry. Durbin genuinely detests the supplement industry. He harbors an unscientific hatred for those who sell nutrients and considers vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs to be fraudulent concoctions that are either wholly ineffectual or harmful.
Under Durbin’s amendment, every dietary supplement company would have to register with the FDA within thirty days or become outlaws. Every such company would have to describe to FDA each product it manufactures, list all ingredients in each product, and provide the agency with a copy of each label and promotional piece used. The obvious intention is to supply the FDA with information to support another Durbin pet project, the creation of lists of products not lawful for sale because they are deemed to present a potential risk to public health. All of this information gathering and assessment is meant to be the prelude to a general crackdown whereby FDA would go about the nation shutting down supplement company after supplement company to the delight of the senior Senator from Illinois.
Under the system Durbin envisions, the FDA would not have to prove a dietary ingredient caused harm to ban it; rather, FDA need only show that at some dose level the product may cause harm and then it may be removed from the market at every dose level. This system is known as the precautionary principle and is being used by the European Food Safety Authority to remove hundreds of dietary supplements form European markets.
FDA gratuitously assumed the power to rely on that principle in removing one dietary ingredient, ephedrine alkaloids, from the market. While FDA had record evidence only capable of showing that ephedrine alkaloids at dose levels above 25 milligrams posed any serious risk of heart toxicity, the agency banned the dietary ingredient at every dose level. On this same premise, every other dietary ingredient may be banned by FDA even at dose levels that cause no injury.
Durbin’s aim is to codify Europe’s precautionary principle, formally replacing the paracelsian principle that is central to toxicity analysis. Under the paracelsian principle, everything is understood to be a potential poison and dose is the determinative factor. Consequently, one would not ban water outright, despite the fact that at some level ingestion of water can be lethal. Rather, water may only lawfully be sold at recommended levels of ingestion beneath that which would cause injury. By replacing the paracelsian principle with the precautionary principle, the FDA may arbitrarily ban any dietary ingredient it chooses because every one is toxic at some dose level, that being a universal characteristic of every food.
Durbin believes to his core in a highly paternalistic government, one that directs what choices we may make on the notion that government bureaucrats know better than we do what is in our own best interest. That faith in an omnipotent government, properly entitled totalitarianism, is of course antithetical to liberty. Durbin has no respect for limits on power in the Constitution because his aim is to remove freedom wherever he thinks it may be abused. Indeed, if he could, he would dictate every aspect of commerce in America and would thereby become America’s first dictator.
Durbin revels in the politics of intimidation, as does his House colleague Henry Waxman. In Durbin’s ideal world government insinuates itself into every nook and cranny of the private sector, erecting pre-market barriers and licensing regimes that permit into commerce only those entities deemed worthy by the bureaucratic state. He has no faith in private initiative, no trust in innovation, and no respect for individual liberty. He distrusts those he is elected to serve, and he places faith in the unelected who rule the bureaucracy.
Durbin’s failed amendment did help identify other members of the United States Senate who are equally deserving of being voted out of office. Each of the following Senators supported Durbin’s amendment: Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR); Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA); Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Senator Al Franken (D-MN); Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Senator Max Baucus (D-MT); Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND); Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Senator Harry Reid (D-NV); Senator Kristen Billibrand (D-NY); Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY); Senator John “Jack” Reed (D-RI); Senator Jim Webb (D-VA); Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Senator Bernard “Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV).
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Collectively these Senators form a barrier to the restoration of constitutional government. They are proponents of the regulatory state, favoring disenfranchising the American people by transferring ever more governing power from the elected to the unelected heads of the bureaucratic agencies. Wittingly or unwittingly, they support Dick Durbin’s effort to make the United States a clone of the European Union’s regulatory state where individual sovereignty and liberty are replaced with bureaucratic fiat. The best gift Americans can give to their country is a vote to remove from office each of these enemies of the republic.
© 2012 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved