The Senate Spurns a Budget in its Haste to Prevent Sun Damage

Erika Johnsen
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Posted: May 27, 2011 12:14 PM

As the Congressional Republicans have attempted to pass a budget that tackles our pending deficit and Medicare crises, Democrats have become quite adept at shooting down budgets while not bothering to propose any practical solutions of their own (today would be day 758, I believe?). It is understandable, though, that they just do not have the time to worry about a federal budget, since they are so darn busy coddling the general welfare. The latest legislation? Forget the budget; we need even more federal standards for sunscreen lotion labels! The Hill has the story:

"As families prepare for Memorial Day festivities, and plan outings this summer, most will be outdoors without adequate sun protection, even if they use sunscreen," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the sponsor, said this week. "This is because there are currently no rules that sunscreen makers must follow when making claims about the level of protection their products provide."

The bill, S. 1064, would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize its 2007 proposal mandating that sunscreen labels disclose the extent to which the product protects against ultraviolet rays known as UVA rays. UVA rays can penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, but currently, sunscreen labels are not required to tell consumers how they protect against UVA rays.

Aside from Reed, the bill is sponsored by several Democratic heavy-hitters, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY). First-term Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is also a sponsor.

According to Reed, forcing the application of the FDA proposal would require labels to "disclose the level of UVA protection in a standard format that appears near the sun protection factor rating, and ensure that the SPF rating actually corresponds to a product's protection against UVB rays."

The bill would require the proposed FDA rule to take effect within 180 days after it became law.

"I look forward to a summer when Americans can finally feel protected from the sun's harmful rays," Reed said.

Well, what a relief that Senator Jack Reed is looking out for me, because otherwise, I would have had no way of knowing about the subtle differences in the sun blockage provided between SPF 75 and SPF 85 (hint: there are none), and never mind the numerous studies that suggest that sunscreen may actually accelerate cancer. Good grief! While this legislation was originally proposed in 2007, this is just a taste of what will happen if the looming menace of Obamacare stays on schedule: since I know that I will not have to feel the full costs of getting any skin cancer spots surgically removed, I have less of an incentive to limit my sun exposure. I know that “society” will pay for it, so I will not take conscious action to lessen my future demand for health care, and the system will become overburdened and expensive. Hence, it becomes the federal government’s job to make decisions about my welfare for me and further encumber the mind-blowing bureaucracy that rules our lives. But hey, even if I cannot afford to buy sunscreen because of federal spending, higher taxes, and a wracked economy, at least I will be able to understand the labels.