A line of inquiry that would have been fruitful at last evening’s White House news conference:
Mr. President, tomorrow, February 10th, the new lead and phthalate content standards go into effect for products intended for children. This implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act has thrown thousands of home-based businesses into chaos, interrupted the sale of products like dirt bikes and backpacks, frightened thrift stores, caused libraries to evaluate the lead content of children’s books, imposed millions of dollars of testing costs on the private sector and opened up businesses to a wave of lawsuits, including class-action litigation.
Given all of your concern for the recession, what can you say to a public who sees the impact of laws like this and doubts the ability of Congress to do anything to help the economy? And is there something your Administration can do to bring a little bit of relief and certainty to all those employers and businesses who are at sixes and sevens about the requirements of this new law? They face serious legal liability for action taken in good faith.
It’s just a thought. As Senator Obama, the President was campaigning last year and did not vote on the various forms of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The CPSC is an independent regulatory agency, so is supposedly not subject to direct presidential influence, but a phone call to a Democratic Senator followed by a phone call to Commissioner Moore could work wonders.
But, really, the responsibility for ameliorating legislation lies with Congress, which passed the CPSIA in the first place.
In any case, welcome to National Bankruptcy Day, the term that many small businesses use to describe the February 10th date that the CPSIA’s lower lead and phthalate standards go into effect. In response to the uproar and confusion, the CPSC on Monday issued a 13-page guidebook, “Guidance on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) for Small Businesses, Resellers, Crafters and Charities.” What we note in this booklet are the adverbs, “likely,” “generally,” “knowingly,” etc. You can’t spell legal liability without an “l” and a “y.”
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced a bill, S. 374, that provides relief and eases the economic burdens caused by implementation of the CPSIA. (News release.) But the Senator is in the minority and his proposed amendment to the stimulus bill that would have done the same thing was not acted upon. So for now, havoc and confusion and costs reign.
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