CPSIA Update: Where’s Congress?

By February 25, 2009Economy, Regulations

Hugh Hewitt, the popular radio talk show host, attorney and law professor — one of the best interviewers out there — is taking an interest in the enormous economic harm caused by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. On his blog today, Hughhewitt.com, he wonders how President Obama’s economic prescriptions can overlook the CPSIA catastrophe. From”Fixing CPSIA, Now”:

Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 9:40 AM Yesterday marked the first day that plaintiffs’ attorneys could file suits against anyone selling goods covered by the Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act  –basically anything intended for use by children.  This draconian law continues to sweep across the retail world and to cause economic damage that is deep and enduring.  The impact on all-terrain vehicles, for example, was clearly not foreseen by Congress but the strict liabilities of the Act have forced the withdrawal of tens of millions of dollars of product from the market and a resulting devastation on the industry.

Listening to the president last night promise recovery, it occurred to me that the appropriations bill now moving through the Congress is a vehicle for CPSIA reform.  At a minimum it ought to include a rider that delays the effective date of CPSIA for another year.  Alternatively, it could provide funding to replace the suddenly worthless inventory covered by the Act and an exemption for the resale market.  (Thrift shops and other charitable resellers have been particularly hard hit by CPSIA given their very low profit margins and their inability to afford pricey compliance lawyers.)

The recession has already slammed many retailers.  Allowing CPSIA to continue its rollout, now accompanied by legions of plaintiffs’ lawyers, is the equivalent of the old medical practice of bleeding the ill.  Congress can fix this, and should.

We’re not wild about the idea of having to compensate those damaged by the law. For one thing, the taxpayers and the taxpayers of 2023 are already being asked to pay for too much, and the CPSIA’s economic harm is TOO MUCH. From Overlawyered.com, “CPSIA: Powersports, crystals, and stranded inventories”:

With large inventories of kid-sized motorbikes, mini-ATVs, and similar products rendered worthless and unsalable under tarps or in back storage rooms, the Motorcycle Industry Council now estimates that the economic damage from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in its sector of the economy alone could reach $1 billion in 2009 if Congress does not act to restore the products’ legality

As Hewitt argues, Congress should just fix it. But has any member of the majority party talked about this issue, any committee chairman? Constituents of Democrats are getting hammered as hard as constituents of Republicans.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • You might enjoy reading this Dr. Seuss style spoof on the CPSIA —


  • […] conservative talk host Hugh Hewitt has continued his coverage of the law. Per one transcript, he discussed it with star columnist Mark Steyn who knew […]

  • Nobody in Congress has the guts to make a move against CPSIA, because they know that if they do, when they’re up for re-election the “consumer” groups like Public Citizen and Consumer’s Union will make damn sure an ad runs that says “Congressman X voted against the safety of our children!” And some of them really have drunk the Kool-Aid and actually believe that the people objecting to this law must be so stupid they’d actually give their kids lead to suck on, and therefore need to be protected by an anti-lead law.

    I don’t know how, but we’ll have to turn up the heat on them so high that they’ll face the wrath of the “consumer” groups. They proved with the stimulus bill that enough calls to clog up the Capitol switchboard isn’t enough to sway them when they’re determined to do (or not to do) something. What’s next?

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