While at the FDA, Josh Sharfstein has found ever more imaginative ways to waste taxpayer money. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been cigarette label redesigns. And finally, during Sharfstein’s leadership, the FDA decided that the time was right to tackle the looming dangers of Americans giving their dogs a bone since, the FDA argues, bone-chewing represents a significant, new risk to dogs.
But, give Sharfstein some credit. He has superb political instincts and understands precisely when it is time to go. Just after the new Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrel Issa, announced that he intended to call hearings to examine some of the dodgy decisions at the FDA, Josh Sharfstein headed for the door. Could be a coincidence, or maybe there was no way he could justify the strange and often disastrous decision-making at the FDA that has so badly compromised a once-proud agency. Better by far, Sharfstein seems to have decided, to slip out the back door and let someone else take the heat for all the misdeeds.
Ironically, Sharfstein has now accepted a top public health job in the State of Maryland where he will be forced to deal with a huge number of small biotech companies working on a number of novel medical breakthroughs, but face impending insolvency because of an inability to navigate the increasingly complex myriad regulatory gauntlet at the FDA that has been erected. Good luck with that. Most likely, Sharfstein will get an earful, and, perhaps for the first time, learn the painful truth about the full costs of his misguided policies.
It’s likely that Sharfstein’s departure is just the beginning. Expect an exodus of other political appointees from other federal agencies as soon as public scrutiny reveals more Obama Administration abuses of public trust. Many Democrats have depended on operating in the dark because they know their policies are indefensible. Liberal Dems who know that their policies cannot be defended are going to leave before Issa’s hawk’s eye turns on their activities.
Issa has been straightforward about his intent to lead of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in investigations of wasteful spending and other abuses of taxpayer trust. In an Administration which has overseen the ballooning of the federal workforce and increased federal spending over the last two years to reach a debt ceiling of $14 trillion, Issa’s oversight can’t start soon enough. Sharfstein’s resignation is just the first, early warning sign that Dems know that Issa means business.