How Sequester Will Punish Consumers

Sequester will be an abuse enabler  


breaking_news_3To celebrate Sequester, champagne corks are popping in corporate suites in two industries in which execs welcome less enforcement of consumer protection from food quality problems and robocall scams. Pre-Sequester it was bad enough that rules were watered down by lobbyists and then selectively enforced or essentially ignored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Post-Sequester the agencies will have fewer resources for consumer protection.


The agricultural industry is subject to USDA rules about food safety and handling. A couple of months ago the USDA published new standards. However, press attention was not paid to the USDA‘s brief mention of more time needed to clarify certification enforcement. Certification was intended to actively require growers, processors and distributors to follow USDA rules for food quality and safety. Pre-Sequester, the USDA found on-site certification overseas prohibitively expensive and possibly dangerous. (The percentage of our food grown and processed outside the USA is dramatically increasing.) Certification is now often a matter of a producer just annually filing a piece of paper “certifying” his product followed the rules. Sequester will push USDA into a policy of more trust and less verification of quality and safety.


The telemarketing industry–especially the robocalling sector–will love how Sequester reduces the risk of actually paying the FTC $16,000 per-call penalty for those hundreds of thousands of calls that daily violate the FTC Do Not Call regulations. Robocalling’s growth is partly due to sophisticated scams for identity theft, phony credit deals, grants and loans, data-mining, medical services, vacation packages, magazine subscriptions and imaginary “services.” Pre-Sequester prosecution was rare, which helped scamsters rake in millions of dollars from a tiny percentage of successful calls. Post-Sequester, the FTC will have diminished resources to prosecute. Robocall scams will grow as FTC enforcement shrinks.


All hail Sequester!




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