NEGAUNEE, Mich. — Representative Jack Bergman (R, Watersmeet) touted his support of Donald Trump's recent Executive Order (EO) rolling back a wide range of regulations throughout all executive federal agencies.
It was billed as support for small businesses. Democratic candidate Dana Ferguson of Negaunee is vying to replace Bergman and says how Bergman defined the order was disingenuous and misleading.
"Supporting widespread deregulations during a pandemic is especially dangerous," said Ferguson. "What Rep. Bergman, Donald Trump and 37 other GOP representatives fail to tell the American public is the broadness of the scope of lifting regulations. It negatively affects far more than small businesses and start-up red tape. It can adversely impact nearly everything that operates in the U.S. under a regulation agency."
Ferguson argues the EO—issued after several efforts to relax rules across departments—is too vague, and gives the head of these agencies unfettered discretion to not enforce regulations that keep citizens safe and the environment protected.
"Prior to this, at the direction of the President we saw department leaders of one such agency, the EPA, relax rules regarding clean air and water, which is especially consequential to the Great Lakes region," said Ferguson. "It gave industries a green light to ignore critical environmental and public health rules. During a public health crisis, it puts citizens further at risk"
The candidate says the administration was also using the same guise of 'economic development' to eliminate or suspend protections that benefit public health. Ferguson, referencing environmental analytics, states the rollbacks have "already shown a significant noticeable negative impact [on the Great Lakes]."
Ferguson worries if modeled after recent Trump deregulations, he questions the slippery slope effect of the new order, says he's a proponent of government oversight, and is concerned the EO lacks accountability.
According to a New York Times energy and legal analysis, the EPA "environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year."
The rollbacks pushed in late May, too, were billed to help boost the economy. The Democratic candidate says they mostly boosted toxicity in our air and water.
"During COVID-19, Trump and Bergman could hoodwink citizens into further respiratory risk," said Ferguson. "The OE allows its own agencies to self-identify regulations to roll back. If they hinder profiteering off [things like] pollution, it could allow them to relax regulations that define the very purpose of their own department's existence, to protect the public. With Trump administration secretaries at the helm of these agencies and sub agencies the consequences are dire."
Recently the Trump administration tried to rollback quality regulations for school lunches for low income students, a regulatory project on opioids, and how the Betsy Devos-lead DoE regulates the handling of sexual misconduct charges on university campuses.
"If it hinders 'economic development' Bergman and Trump don't want it even moderately regulated," said Ferguson. "We can have economic recovery without deregulation. In fact, there's no real evidence deregulation helps anyone but financial institutions, large corporations, Wall Street and polluters. This doesn't really help main street entrepreneurs, nor their workers. It's incredibly reckless of Bergman to support it."
Dana Ferguson has a bachelor's degree in Economics and a master's degree in Public Administration from Northern Michigan University.
Ferguson says if Rep. Bergman wanted to support small businesses, "then he should have voted yes on the HEROES Act which actually provided economic aid to workers on main street."
Rep. Bergman called the HEROES stimulus package a "socialist... feckless political stunt."
"Aid to essential workers—our heroes, relief for working families, students, and an economic boost for Michiganders who live and work on Main Street is not feckless," said Ferguson in a previous statement.
"Citizens deserve a much more careful approach to governance," he said. "Michigan's 1st District can do better. In general, constituents are disappointed. It's time to take Bergman's seat back home."