9 October 2009

Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Harkin:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I urge you to call for a full Senate hearing on President Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Professor David Michaels of the George Washington University School of Public Health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a powerful body which has the ability to change every workplace in America through its regulatory authority, clout that should not to be overlooked. It is for this reason that Michaels’ and all Assistant Secretary Nominees should require Senate confirmation. In fact, Michaels’ direct appointment is a rarity. In the past most Assistant Secretaries have undergone a more thorough confirmation process.

Michaels has a controversial history which deserves closer scrutiny. His objection to the Supreme Court’s 1993 unanimous decision, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals is troubling. Coupled with his contempt for corporations who doubt the necessity of regulation, as written about in his book, Doubt is Their Product, his beliefs should be the subject of certain evaluation.
Consistently advocating for more government interference in private business, even when such regulation directly contradicts available data or their effectiveness remains uncertain, Michaels’ would be a troubling force in OSHA.

Professor Michaels’ should be allowed to explain his past statements and writings in an open, public forum. Michaels’ preferences and opinions should be known as they will guide the direction of OSHA should be confirmed.

President Obama assured the American people that transparency would be on the forefront of his agenda. Leapfrogging full and open Senate hearings goes directly against this claim.

Grover G. Norquist

Cc: All members of the Senate