Congressional oversight of executive branch agencies is a key element of the checks and balances that prevent accumulation of too much power, as well as abuse of that power, in any one part of government. A review of two recent congressional oversight endeavors now being stymied by the Obama Administration underscores the often-overlooked importance of the oversight process. In both cases, lives are at stake.
Government ought to rely on unbiased scientific findings when making policy decisions regarding important issues. But unfortunately, many government agencies undermine the scientific process by using it for their own purposes rather than to discover the truth, a reality President Dwight Eisenhower pointed out in his farewell address more than a half-century ago. The situation has only become worse since then, with government funding of tobacco studies providing a vivid example.
As a pathologist working at two large medical centers, I have studied the effects of smoking on health for over 20 years. I’ve published scores of papers on the impressive benefits of switching from cigarettes to safer, non-combustible forms of tobacco (such as Swedish snus). This strategy – called tobacco harm reduction – has vast potential for improving public health.
Ebola has proven that it is a disease without borders and many people would like some assurance that the US health care system has this under control. Instead we’re busy playing the “blame game.”