Click the image to see American Family Voices' new ad.
Contrary to the impression that some politicians and pundits give with their frequent goofy rhetoric and games, politics and policymaking is a very serious business, sometimes quite literally a life and death matter. The most obvious case of that is sending troops off to war, but there are many other life and death policy decisions our politicians have to make as well. The debates that happen on Capitol Hill matter a great deal. If you cut Social Security benefits and force seniors to pay more for Medicare, many seniors will have more trouble finding the money for groceries and utilities, and could freeze or starve to death. If you deny people health care coverage, more people will die from the lack of necessary care -- 40,000 people per year by one estimate. If you cut off people's unemployment benefits and do nothing to create jobs for the long-term unemployed, more people will commit suicide, and more people will starve to death. And if you allow more deadly poisons into the air, a lot of people -- including children -- will die. This is not speculation; these are very well documented facts, confirmed by numerous scientific studies and statistical analyses.
Take the Clean Air Act. EPA research shows that the Clean Air Act prevents 160,000 deaths of our fellow Americans every single year. Even more specifically, their data shows that 230 of the deaths prevented in 2010 were infants, the smallest and most vulnerable people of all. Because mercury, arsenic, dioxin, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, and all kinds of other poisonous chemicals don't get into our air supply, 160,000 of us are still walking around that wouldn't be otherwise -- and every one of us is a lot healthier. The Clean Air Act is government at its best: a policy that has been one of the most successful legislative achievements in the last 100 years.
But for some reason (oh, wait, I know the reason: all those tens of millions of dollars polluters give to them), Republicans don't want to fund the Clean Air Act. They don't care how successful it has been. They don't care that it works exactly the way it was intended in cleaning up our air and saving all those lives. And apparently they don't care about all those people -- even those innocent babies -- who are going to die as a result.
Now I don't know about you, but I really like babies. I think they are God's greatest creation. Holding them, talking to them, making funny faces to try to get them to smile at me -- it's one of my very favorite things to do in life. So I'd really prefer if more of them made it to adulthood.
This attack on the Clean Air Act is politics at its worst, driven by special interest money and a blind hatred of government -- even (especially?) government that is doing exactly what it should be doing. That is why the organization I head up, American Family Voices, is launching an ad this weekend to drive the message home: we don't want the deaths that will result from this policy decision the Republicans want to pursue.
Yes, it hits hard. But these folks deserve it. I know there are a lot of other things going on right now, a lot of battles to fight. But I hope you'll take a moment to tell the Republicans in the House how wrong they are to try and shut down Clean Air Act enforcement. Help us save some lives, including the lives of kids who can't speak out on their own behalf.
Mike Lux is the President of American Family Voices.