Bevin Uses Koch-Funded Study to Justify "Red Tape Reduction"

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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As justification for his “Red Tape Reduction” program, Governor Bevin has cited a study by the Mercatus Center, a think tank founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, and with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). What might this tell us about the direction of the Governor’s program?

koch brothers photo
Photo by DonkeyHotey

The Mercatus Center is housed at George Mason University, and describes itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.” (Mercatus is Latin for “market.”) It was founded in 1980, and moved to George Mason University after the Koch Foundation gave a large donation to the university to support the move. Over the years, the Kochs have given $30 million to George Mason, most of which has gone to the Mercatus Center.

The Center notes that one of its “guiding lights” is Friedrich Hayek, one of the founders of neo-liberal economic theory. (Note: Definitely not the same as modern liberalism, thus the neo- prefix.) Key components of neo-liberalism include “privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending.” The Center focuses much of its effort on deregulation, especially environmental deregulation. One Democratic strategist has called the Mercatus Center “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”

Impact on Kentucky?

So what could this mean? If past performance is any indication, the goal will be to gut environmental protections across the state in the name of “cutting red tape.” For example, in 2002 the Center submitted a list of 44 environmental regulations at the Federal level that it thought should be rescinded or changed. One of the Center’s leaders was described as displaying “an extreme anti-regulatory ideology” and claimed she “questioned the merit of regulation altogether in congressional testimony and regulatory comments, and she has urged weakening, if not eliminating entirely, public safeguards.”

red-tape-reduction-logoAs this is written, the Red Tape Reduction site only provides a way to submit a regulation that you would like eliminated. There is no means (currently) to see what is being considered. Will there be opportunity for public review of the regulations being eliminated? Will we know which protections we are losing? Or will we only find out once we’re able to light our drinking water on fire?

One other note – go to the Red Tape Reduction site and look at the list of partners of the project. Hmm, wonder what regulations THEY want to get rid of?

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