We scream and we scream, and still find ourselves with few satisfying answers to a simple question: Are they listening? The "they" is Congress, specifically the House and Senate Committees responsible for the CPSIA and potentially for its remedy. We know others are listening, like the numerous Congressmen (Barrett, Bilirakis, Carney, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, Pitts, Platts, Ryan, Tiahrt, Weiner) and Senators (Brownback, Levin, Leahy, Mikulksi, Sarbanes, Snowe) who have expressed their concerns over this law, and the more that will soon follow. I think the CPSC hears us, too. Does Congress? If not, what's the problem?
It's a real puzzle - or is it? My sources tell me that at the Congressional staff meeting on Friday Jan. 16 held to clear up "misunderstandings" and "confusion" under the CPSIA, staffers apparently stated that no changes would be forthcoming in the law (aha, that clears everything up quite nicely), and that somehow this law is just a "safety net" for products. [That last remark is fascinating - I don't recall them characterizing the CPSIA as toothless in public. Are they saying different things to different people, depending on the audience? Now I AM getting confused.]
Even more outrageous, unnamed staffers are reported to have stated that no hearing would occur until an additional CPSC Commissioner was appointed, and that CPSC would be "unable" to appear at any earlier hearing. In other words, they have no intention of holding hearings in advance of the February 10 implementation date, despite the reams of data they possess on the many serious problems their law is causing. Actually, it is my understanding that the CPSC has requested such a hearing, but that request apparently fell on deaf ears. Spin, spin, spin - and then tell everyone that all discordant views are misinformation or the confusion of [fill-in-the-blank] people. Finally, to cap it off, we understand that House staffers are simply "too busy" to attend meetings with industry and the CPSC to discuss the details of the real life impact of the law.
Is there a pattern developing here? Does Congress believe it can just bury this problem and no one will notice? Put your hands over your ears and your eyes, and the problem's not there, right? Why won't Congress hold hearings and let the People speak out on the record? When it comes time to have such a debate, they seem to be too busy or have other excuses to keep inconvenient opinions out of the public eye. After all, if they can keep the protests to a few frothy blogs, this will all blow over . . . right? It is ironic that the people who patted themselves on the back for defending safety, Mom and Apple Pie, are now resorting to legislative trickery to silence you, their opponents, for the crime of disagreeing.
Just a quick reminder: February 10, is 23 days away. Let's not let it become National Bankruptcy Day - please keep screaming at your representatives in Congress. It's not too late - but we're getting there . . . .