alert)  “Sneaked in”?  “At the last moment”?  Into H.R.4173?  Remember these words because that’s what that health-freedom organization has been claiming.  They’ve even been claiming that it has now become law!

Our Response

            With three major sensationalist claims within almost as many months – each of which is very misleading at best and grossly inaccurate at worst – who wouldn’t wonder what was happening with these people?  So, what would you do?  Write them, of course, and tell them that this new approach is wrong.  NHF did just that, we wrote them.  No response.

            Yet, they already know as well as anyone in the World the supreme importance of getting the facts straight and avoiding the tendencies to stir up emotions with misinformation – or try to take too much credit for things that others in the health-freedom movement largely worked to achieve.  It was not so long ago that we at NHF even commiserated frequently with them about yet-another entity that had inserted itself into the health-freedom movement only to end up running off half-baked, spreading fear and sensationalizing with gross misinformation, in order to gain attention for themselves and to gain more financial contributions and profits.

            The problem with that kind of activity, as they know all too well, is that it makes the work of the legitimate, respected and authoritative health-freedom entities, of which NHF is the oldest and probably most well-established in the World, infinitely more difficult.  Misinformation causes those in the public community who genuinely care about health freedom to focus their attention in the wrong places – places that don’t make any difference – and diverts the efforts and resources of the caring health-freedom community from focusing on the issues that are in fact the legitimate, most vital issues – where their attention is indeed very much needed in order to make a difference.  The public thinks they’ve already been informed, or that they already addressed the issues, and therefore feels they don’t have to know anything more.  Or, worse, they become confused by the misinformation and the conflicting reports, and throw their hands up, feeling helpless to do anything.

            There are some dedicated leaders in health-freedom advocacy who have been calling into question the real motives of this organization’s new president and major donor, seeing him as a member of the wealthy elite.  They cite the fact that he was closely affiliated with the Rockefellers, having been a Trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (known for donating large sums to the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the United Nations, among others).  Few people would exactly regard the Rockefeller elites as being strong advocates of health freedom, or of any other kind of freedom for the masses for that matter.

            However, we prefer to suspend judgment until we know more.  Until then, we choose to hope for the best, grant him the benefit of the doubt, and to focus on the area we do have all the facts about, which is the dissemination of accurate-versus-misleading information regarding health freedom and the politics that may threaten the public’s well-being.

            In this regard, we find ourselves forced into the position of not only being the final-word source of accurate, reliable information on a key issue that has developed recently but also, once again, being the voice of reason to correct the inaccurate and misleading information that has been spread recently by, in this case, that still-embryonic but nonetheless quite-vocal health-freedom organization that has repeatedly been sensationalizing and distorting its messages to the public.

The “Waxman Amendment”

            Keep in mind that this other organization, during the last 30 days, has loudly proclaimed not only that the sky was falling but that, in fact, it had already hit the ground with a loud and crashing thud.  They claimed that it was all over for us in terms of access to dietary supplements by announcing – wrongly so, thank goodness – that Representative Waxman had just succeeded in slipping language related to health freedom into broad-sweeping finance reform legislation that had been quickly enacted into law.

            Then, when NHF challenged their sensationalist statements about the “sneaky Waxman amendment,” they responded with what they called “evidence” that Waxman had “sneaked” in an anti-DSHEA amendment into the House Financial Reform bill (their 5/25/10 post).

Our Response on Waxman

            Incredibly, all that their “evidence” consisted of was that Waxman was the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee that had considered another bill entirely (H.R.3126), and this bill, as opposed to a Waxman amendment as first claimed, was the vehicle for this supposed “sneak attack” on DSHEA.  In fact, the Waxman committee simply considered H.R.3126, "as ordered and reported out by the Committee on Financial Services," in the first place.  This is what the legislative record states.  [Full Bill text - H.R.3126]

            So what really happened?  To put it into simple terms, nothing at all happened! There were technical amendments made to the finance reform legislation that involve procedural formalities only, which in no way have any material effect or implication on DSHEA whatsoever.  Construing any such connection requires the kind of leap of fantasy that leads to great adventure movies, but for any level-headed and qualified observer the impact is not enough to inspire even a healthy yawn.

            The language involves legalese; but to make our case plain, here it is for those readers who care to see the details.  It’s really not that complicated at all, and clearly demonstrates why we say that other entity has been grossly sensationalizing. See for yourself, and you decide if DSHEA was just negated.

            The following amendments were adopted by the Committee on Energy and Commerce before sending it back to the Financial Services Committee for inclusion in the final House Financial Services Wall Street Reform bill, H.R.4173.  The Waxman and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) manager’s amendment, which passed by a voice vote by the other 56 members on the committee, restructured the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Commission by changing it from an agency into a commission.  With regard to the FTC, the amendment made changes to the original H.R.3126 from the Financial Services Committee to provide the FTC and CFPC with reciprocal notice and coordination obligations when enforcing laws that both commissions have the authority to enforce. In addition, the Waxman-Barton manager’s amendment made several changes to ensure that the CFPC consults and coordinates with the FTC on consumer complaints about fraudulent or misleading financial services advertising or financial transactions with consumers.  Finally, a new subsection 210(d) was proposed by Waxman and adopted unanimously by the other 57 members of the committee giving the FTC the authority to seek civil penalties in enforcement actions without first having to refer those actions to the Department of Justice.

            It is important to note that Waxman’s committee only considered H.R.3126, and that bill – as the bill itself states – “is intended to improve consumer protection in the financial arena by creating one commission whose sole mission is consumer financial protection.  H.R. 3126 would pull the consumer protection functions from each of the banking agencies, and some consumer financial protection functions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and give those functions to the new commission.”  Nowhere, during the time that Waxman’s committee was involved with H.R.3126 was there language that would apply outside of the financial-services arena.  (See link here for H.R.3126 “Purpose and Summary” wording from the bill to show that it was only about consumer financial services, not supplements.)

            Moreover, as Chairman of the E/C committee, Waxman will necessarily offer a manager's amendment to many bills.  They do not mean that they originated with him.  When committee members of any committee of the House and Senate have amendments to bills that all can agree to informally, instead of voting separately on each one they are combined into one "manager's amendment."  In this case, the Waxman/Barton manager's amendment was agreed to by voice vote.  Waxman also sits in the House of Representatives and voted for the bill.  Done in the full light of the Committee, this is hardly “sneaking in” an amendment.   And there is no mention whatsoever of the DSHEA law, or citation to its Federal statute or reference in bill text to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in the final House version of H.R. 3126, nor in the House Financial Services bill passed by the full House, H.R. 4172, Section 4901, dealing with changes in FTC law.  Rather, it is applicable to all industries, and, as such, they have all opposed it strenuously.

            So, bottom-line:  (1) There was nothing “sneaked into” H.R.4173; the action they refer to was actually done in the light of day with full reporting, and was for another bill entirely (H.R.3126); (2) At others’ (not Waxman’s) direction, this other bill was then inserted into H.R.4173; (3) When Waxman’s committee considered H.R.3126, it was a normal committee consideration done at the request of another committee; (4) Waxman’s role as chairman of his committee necessitates that when a manager’s amendment is agreed upon, he offers it; it does not mean that he authored it; and (5) There is no evidence that any of this wording was directed against DSHEA or supplements, and there is no wording mentioning DSHEA or dietary supplements!

Keeping Things in Perspective

            This other health-freedom organization misled you by stating that “Waxman” “sneaked in” an “anti-DSHEA” “amendment” “into H.R.4173” – all of which was incorrect. They further misled you by 

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