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Lame-duck session alert: Food police, feminism run amok & enviro-handouts on Senate floor today

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 17, 2010 09:35 AM


Melt those phones!

Two Senate floor votes for you to track and act on today (Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121):

1) The “FDA Modernization Act” (aka The Food Police Bill) - Big Nanny/Big Gov/Big Chef is back with legislation to expand the FDA’s powers. Funny, I can’t recall this being at the top of anyone’s priority list during the midterms or during the past two years of burgeoning citizen activism. Remember: The Dems still don’t get it — because they refuse to get it, not because of a failure to “reflect.”

Grass-roots opponents from a diverse political spectrum oppose the bill. A cloture vote is scheduled today, with Sen. Coburn forcing a full Senate vote on the earmark ban:

A far-reaching food safety bill that could give the government more power to prevent foodborne illnesses has become a target of advocates for buying food produced locally. They worry the legislation’s safety requirements could force small farms out of business. The opposition of these “locavores” – advocates for buying food directly from the farm or closer to home – and owners of small farms has become a sticking point in the Senate, which was to vote Wednesday on whether to consider the bill. Supporters will need 60 votes to proceed on the bill because Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has objected, saying the legislation’s $1.4 billion cost isn’t paid for.

While the bill is designed to give the Food and Drug Administration greater authority over the nation’s food supply, opponents say it could bankrupt some small farms that don’t have the means to comply with new standards the bill would impose. Those standards could include registering food safety plans with the FDA and documenting efforts to show food is not contaminated as it is produced. “It’s going to put a nail in the coffin of our family food producers,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who is planning an amendment to exempt some small farms who market food close to their operations. He says many small farms already comply with state and local regulations to keep food safe.

2) “Paycheck Fairness Act” (aka The Feminism Run Amok bill): Also on schedule for a vote today. This is yet another piece of left-wing, social engineering legislation that shows how out of touch Democrats are with the electorate’s priorities. Does anyone other than Rachel Maddow, the liberals on The Spew, and tenured man-haters on campus still care about the mythical discriminatory wage gap? And didn’t the Lily Ledbetter Act — the first act Obama signed into law nearly two years ago — already “fix” the “problem?”

Economist June O’Neill deconstructs Washington’s equal pay gap obsession:

Women in the workplace don’t face rampant pay discrimination, and yet the Senate may soon pass a bill—already passed in the House—premised on the erroneous charge that they do. The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) would be a harmful addition to the many federal laws that already protect women and men from labor-market discrimination.

The original Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal for firms to pay different wages to women and men who performed equal work on jobs in the same establishment. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination against women and minorities in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion and compensation. Additional protections came with the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act; the 1991 amendments to Title VII, which boosted penalties for discrimination; and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act, which essentially eliminated the time limit for filing discrimination claims.

In addition, for more than 40 years two major federal agencies have been dedicated to fighting labor-market discrimination: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance.

Why do we need still more legislation? The reason, say the bill’s sponsors, is that women earn 77% as much as men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this figure refers to the annual earnings of full-time, year-round workers. It doesn’t compare comparable men and women, and it doesn’t reflect that full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women.

It also doesn’t reflect what research of mine and others have shown: Men typically accumulate more continuous work experience and therefore acquire higher productivity in the labor market. In fact, the gender gap shrinks to between 8% and 0% when the study incorporates measures such as work experience, career breaks and part-time work…

***

One more vote scheduled on the floor today, via Heritage — Harry Reid’s eco-handout bill:

Undeterred by an American electorate that shouted clearly that it was done with Washington-centric, special interest politics, the majority leader filed procedural motions to vote on S. 3815, the “Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010.” The bill is laden with handouts to promote vehicles powered by natural gas and electric. And to pay for this corporate welfare, the bill would call for an increase to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund tax from $.08 per barrel to $0.21 per barrel.

This means that everyday Americans would be paying more at the pump to subsidize industries that Washington has deemed politically correct. S. 3815 “would spend $4.5 billion over the next ten years on tax rebates for buyers of natural gas vehicles and subsidies for manufacturers of the vehicles. It also authorizes $1.5 billion over the next ten years for research and development effort related to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

The bill is symbolic of everything that is wrong with Washington when it comes to energy policy. The government spends money on proven technologies even though these decisions would be better left for the private sector. When the government selects political winners, it’s usually a good indicator that the technology or energy source is a market loser. After all, if the venture was a profitable one, it wouldn’t need privileged treatment from the government.

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