“Toying” With The CPSC

The Inky snuck in a real doozy on Friday; I guess this is their idea of trying to use cutting-edge web-based commentary to give philly.com a spike in its hit count (somehow, though, I’m sure they could have done MUCH better than Hugh Hewitt)…

Do Democrats really care about job losses?

If they did, they would move quickly to amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

CPSIA, as it is known among the companies it has greatly damaged, was Congress’ response to the stories over the past two years of products arriving from China with too much lead in them, products that genuinely endangered the children who played with them. Congress got its dander up and passed strict new standards on the amount of lead allowed in products intended for children. For good measure, Congress also added bans on certain levels of phthalates in select products.

I’ll tell you what; here is a link to the bill, and I’ll let you search the text if you want and see if you can find references to phthalates, because I couldn’t find any (basically, the intent of the bill is to rectify the problems created by the ruinous chairmanship of chamber of commerce flaks Michael Baroody and Nancy Nord – more here and here).

Also, I searched repeatedly to find information on the job losses supposedly caused by this legislation, and I couldn’t find anything about that either (in fact, Hewitt interviewed CSPC chairwoman Nord here – yes, apparently she’s still with us, pending a replacement from the Obama Administration – and he asked her point blank about supposed job losses from the Act, and she couldn’t answer the question either…and of course, Hewitt doesn’t cite a source for that claim himself).

And I had to laugh as I heard Hewitt describe himself as “a fed for a lot of years,” in the Nord interview, given that this tells us that Hewitt clerked for a couple of D.C. appeals court judges in 1983-84, and then worked in the Reagan Administration for a time before returning to California to oversee construction of the Richard Nixon library in 1989. How that constitutes being “a fed for a lot of years” is a mystery to me.

However, I cringed at Hewitt’s sickening hypothetical in his interview where he tells Nord to issue an “exemption” to the 2008 Act (presumably because, according to Hewitt – again, with no evidence to support his claim – parents are putting their kids on adult bikes because of the ’08 law’s ban on ATVs and snowmobiles) and “let the courts overturn it so that (when a) child…is injured or killed, (it) is not blood on your hands, it’s on that court or the Congress?”

And this guy claims to be an evangelical Christian, by the way. Also, though I’m used to a “leap of logic,” should I just call this a “leap of nonsense” and leave it at that (from the Inquirer piece)?

CPSIA should become Exhibit 1 in the GOP’s efforts to slow down health care reform and cap and trade. If Congress can accidentally unleash such unintended and costly side effects when working in a fairly narrow area, imagine the consequences of their unintended sideswipes when it comes to health care or energy production.

And you’ll never guess who the “hero” is in Hewitt’s post, the person trying to get an extension to avoid implementing the Act and thus preserve all of that supposedly safe product inventory that the Act would destroy.

Why, that would be none other than Jim DeMint. Surprised?

Meanwhile, in the world of grownups, President Barack Obama provided “an overall budget increase of 8 percent for domestic programs, with some regulatory agencies receiving double-digit increases. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will get 31 percent funding increases, while the Food and Drug Administration’s budget will grow by 19 percent” in the recently passed spending bill,” as noted here.

Which, I’m certain, will be administered by a new head of the CPSC before too much longer.

7 Responses to “Toying” With The CPSC

  1. Michael Feeney says:

    You link to and appear to have read about the wrong law. CPSIA does indeed cover phthalates and they are mentioned on the first page after the title page of the law in the table of contents. Here’s the url to the actual law http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsia.Pdf.

    The CPSC tried to make the phalates part of the law not be retroactive. The NRDC sued and and got a ruling in their favor. So currently CPSIA applies to phthalates retroactively as of Feb 10, 2009.

    First person stories of business closing and of massive financial loss abound on the internet. Do a google blog search or google news search simply on the term CPSIA. You’ll find them. Also go to overlawyered.com and peruse Walter Olsen’s posts.

    I wouldn’t let my child ride an oversize motorcycle and you probably wouldn’t either. But there are 300 million people in this country and I’d bet you pounds to potatoes that some of them will. Unfortunately we won’t know about it until an accident happens. Hopefully it won’t

  2. doomsy says:

    I did do a search to find out how many people lost their jobs due to the ’08 law, and I read about one lady who worked in a mill from the overlawyered site. That was all I could find. Besides, if Hewitt is the one raising such a ruckus, why is it incumbent on me to do his research for him since he apparently can’t source his information properly?

    Also, I found this snopes.com article about testing for phthalates retroactively (sorry I missed that), though apparently some are upset at snopes for that (snopes looks pretty reliable to me, though).

  3. Michael Feeney says:

    The snopes.com article only addresses a tiny aspect of CPSIA – the selling of used goods. And even in that regard they completely missed the bigger picture.

    Snopes correctly states that used sellers do not have to test but the products sold must meet all CPSIA requirements and so the CPSC recommends that sellers use common sense.

    Here’s the problem – penalties for violating CPSIA can be severe – in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and up to 5 years in prison. Would a thrift store get such severe penalties? Probably not. But they could.

    So if you’re a used goods seller and you’re looking at an item that probably doesn’t have any lead in it but you can’t be 100% sure and if you’re wrong you could potentially end up in jail, what’s your common sense going to tell you?

    What common sense has been telling used sellers all over this country is that they can’t afford the risk and many have pulled all children’s products from their shelves. Even though the vast majority of those products are safe. The result being that low income families have lost one of their best sources of clothing for their children.

    This would be bad enough if this were all the damage done by CPSIA. Unfortunately it barely scratches the surface.

    The CPSC delayed the third party unit testing requirements for most products for one year. Still many individual artists and craftsmen have already shut down to avoid the risk of penalties. If the law is not changed, on Feb 10, 2010 when the stay is lifted, the childrens artist and craftspeople community will essentially be destroyed.

    This law has many more problems that I do not have time to list. But here are some links to damages done. I’ve been reading about this law for about 3 months and have seen many more than this but do not have the links at hand.


  4. doomsy says:

    Your comment ended up in my spam queue, otherwise I would have approved it sooner – thanks (and if Hugh Hewitt had bothered to present his argument this way, then I probably would not have had anything to post about to begin with).

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