Today's hearing of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Small Business brought to light a number of issues caused by the CPSIA. For those of us who are struggling to survive an incomprehensibly dangerous and misconceived law, this long-sought hearing presented a great opportunity to get on the record. I filed testimony, as did others. Many people rushed to get on the record, to set it straight, because Mr. Waxman and his co-horts have done yeoman's work keeping us off the record. This hearing was much anticipated, largely because we had received direct feedback from committee staff that they understood the issues with the CPSIA and were genuinely concerned.
Watch the hearing videos - Nancy Nord's testimony was honest, insightful and intelligent, and the committee treated her fairly. Notably, Ms. Nord said what I have always wanted to say (on the record), namely that none of the armchair quarterbacks in Congress can point to ACTUAL LANGUAGE in the CPSIA that gives the CPSC the purported "discretion" to exercise common sense judgment in implementing the law. Of course, there is no such language (the opposite is true, as Ms. Nord noted clearly) - the Dems' claims of such authorization is poisonous and shameless manipulation. The industry witnesses (including AmendTheCPSIA Rally speaker Susan Baustian) painted a depressing picture of a law devastating small business without acheiving any safety payoff. Small Business is the charge of this committee. The truth was spoken, did anyone listen?
Unfortunately, Chairman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania had selective hearing today. See Altmire's Committee press release in which he makes up a story about industry fingering the CPSC. This didn't happen - the videos don't lie. The Republicans didn't have wax in their ears - the Republican Committee press release accurately notes that the testimony universally criticized the law, NOT the CPSC. Isn't that interesting - the Republicans seem able to digest the spoken word, yet the Dems hear what they want to hear. Oh, wait a sec, what's this? A press release from Jason Altmire's OWN website - it quotes Laurel Schreiber detailing the small business problems caused by the rigid and unrealistic law (and then Mr. Altmire launches into the Party lies - oops, I meant "Party line" - about the "bad" CPSC under Ms. Nord). So Mr. Altmire apparently was able to hear at least a little bit of criticism of the law, when it emitted from his own constituent, but still seems to have concluded, despite the testimony from several witnesses, that the problem is solely with the agency.
If Mr. Altmire and the Dems already "knew the answer" and had no intention of listening to the small business witnesses, why hold hearings at all? I can only speculate that this is some sort of Kabuki Theater staged for the benefit of I-have-no-idea. It seems that Mr. Waxman and his associates finally decided that if the "whiners" want a hearing, they'll get a hearing, and the Dems can twist it into whatever they want. The word must have come down to Mr. Altmire that if he wants to eat, he must toe the line. Hence the fantastic misleading press release. [He's not the first Dem to be taken out to the wood shed about the CPSIA.] Interestingly, Mr. Altmire seemed the epitome of polite and empathic concern at the hearing but turned into a jackal at press release time. This is not particularly endearing behavior, if you ask me.
Get used to it, it's a fixed game. The Democrat-run Congress has decided to go its own way - they don't work for you anymore and are deaf to your legitimate concerns. The situation has devolved into "anti-transparency" where government has been taken over by people with a Nanny State agenda, and they will impose it using all available "behind closed doors" means to keep inquiring eyes away. The "anti-transparency" government operates by repeating the Big Lie over and over - namely that the law is perfect (oh what a great process to craft it!), that we really need this protection, and that the CPSC is at fault with intentionally incompetent implementation - until we all fall under their spell or expire from exhaustion (they seem to be indifferent). You will see this again with Climate Control and the Toxic Substances Control Act (Waxman's version of REACH).
This new way of government is for the "have's", not the "have-not's". In this case, the "have's" are consumer groups and rich industry groups or companies with large, vocal constituencies. The "have-not's" are the rest of us, including MANY law-abiding family businesses that used to be considered the backbone of the economy. This is not what the Constitution promises but the stewards of your future are unconcerned. After all, fairness and equity are secondary considerations since we REALLY need all this precautionary protection. The shadowy staffers who run Energy and Commerce in both Houses of Congress send messages to their Commissioners on how to grant common sense "justice", and ignore the law in the process. This works great for our staffer government.
Why is this "anti-transparency"? Ahem, what about public hearings instead of quiet instruction in the dead of night? What about laws that are written down, and enforced as written? What about laws that apply to everyone equally, without regard to economic ability to mount multi-million dollar campaigns to gain exemptions? In the new world where enforcement and practice diverge away from the law itself, we are subject to unwritten laws that can change without due process. This is simply not right and is subject to abuse.
And another thing, Mr. Obama does NOT feel your pain. His position, like the rest of the Deaf Dems, is to jam this law down your throats, reasonable or not. Before we grant him Sainthood for a good couple months of speechifying, I believe he should be held to account for his culpable silence and complicity on this law.
I may recall this matter the next time I vote.