CPSIA Update: Thankfully, Some Critics are Energized

There’s always been enough political blame to go around for the job-killing excesses of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). With legislation pushed as a response to reports of dangerous children’s products from China, congressional backers of the expanded regulatory state joined with “consumer activists” and the trial lawyers to craft a bill that simply went too far. The CPSIA imposed standards that did little for safety while reflecting no understanding of the real world of manufacturing, retailing and especially small- and home-based businesses.

The conference report for H.R. 4040 passed the House on a vote of 424-1 and the Senate by 89-3. President Bush signed the CPSIA into law on August 14, 2008. So, bipartisan excess.

But as the regulatory rigidity, excesses, and mind-boggling costs became apparent, Congress choose not to fix the law. There were meetings, discussion, one hearing and no legislation this year.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2009-10 has also made a few adjustment and regulatory interpretations, but the law is still adding company-destroying costs and burdens that can’t reasonably be considered necessary for safety. Were children made any safer by removing books and warm jackets from libraries and second-hand stores?

Congress doesn’t have to act, no. Government can wait out the best of them, letting the costs add up, the home-based business give up, U.S. competitiveness deteriorate, and the complainers fade away.

But some refuse to fade. Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com brings us up to date on Rick Woldenberg, a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “fade.” From “CPSIA, business anger and the election“:

The Wall Street Journal had a report Tuesday on newly mobilized sentiment among businesspeople intent on challenging the rapid ongoing expansion of federal governance and regulation. It profiles Rick Woldenberg, well known to readers of this site as a tireless agitator against the insanities of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. Woldenberg had been an Obama voter and basically apathetic about politics until the CPSIA debacle unfolded, putting at risk his medium-sized educational products company and many other makers and sellers of basically harmless products for kids. The indifference of the federal establishment to the resulting distress in the business community — and in particular the deaf ear turned by such lawmakers as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) — propelled Woldenberg into legislative activism (AmendTheCPSIA.com) and then politics, where he has backed Joel Pollak in an unusually strong challenge to Rep. Schakowsky in her Chicago-area district.

As we said, there’s enough bipartisan blame to around for passage of the bill. But for failing to fix it? Well, Woldenberg has identified whom he intends to hold accountable.

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply