CPSIA Update: More Money for CPSC Won’t Solve Law’s Problem

By July 15, 2009General

The supporters of the expanded regulatory state at OMB Watch take note of Congressional efforts to increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, above and beyond the increases asked for by President Obama. The post, “Congress Looks to Boost CPSC Funding above Obama Request,” reports that while President Obama asked for $107 million for the CPSC in FY 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $115 million, and the House Appropriations Committee supported $111.3 million.

The National Association of Manufacturers supported increased funding for the CPSC included in last year’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and the agency could surely use additional staff and resources. The CPSC has yet to issue guidance for the law’s requirement for product tracking labels, which goes into effect August 14. Labeling nearly every product meant for children with a permanent tracking label is a huge undertaking, but the CPSC’s lack of guidance has left industry working in the dark. (Commissioner Nancy Nord last Friday promised guidance soon. We’re waiting.)

But we suspect the push for even more spending is really an effort by some in Congress to change the subject. A overwhelming bipartisan majority last year passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which is has wreaked havoc on everything from ATVs to thrift stores to retailers of dance outfits to the ballpoint pen industry to home-based businesses making baby booties or all-natural wooden toys. It’s put people out of business. (See this, this and this.)

Rather than acknowledge the harm that the CPSIA has caused, Congress’ self-appointed protectors of the consumers prefer to spend more money so they can say, “Safety comes first, and we’re giving the CPSC the tools it needs to implement the law.”

It’s deflection. What we need is not more aggressive implementation of a bad law, but a better law.

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