Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CPSIA - Waxman Language Dropped from Defense Bill

In a triumph for rationality (?), the Waxman CPSIA amendment has been DROPPED as an attachment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. It is dead and will not become law (the bill is posted on the House Rules Committee page and does not include this amendment). The people have spoken! Apparently, no one particularly liked the process dreamt up by the Waxmanites, and with full rebellion by various industry groups, certain CPSC Commissioners, other House Democrats, the Senate and of course, the slighted Republicans, the language was killed.

Notably, the very fact that Waxman himself proposed this amendment is a strong concession that something needs to be done legislatively to fix the law. This is also an acknowledgement from the top that the CPSIA can't be fixed by the CPSC alone. Furthermore, it is clear that the language didn't go nearly far enough to address the many well-known issues or put the CPSC in a position to take sensible steps to fix the mess. Finally, I sense a growing desire among legislators to work cooperatively and in a bipartisan way to fix the law. Perhaps more than a year of vicious fighting is wearing everyone down. Let's not forget that the CPSIA was originally the product of bipartisanship. The withdrawal of the Waxman amendment is a strong vote AGAINST poisonous relations across the aisle, at least as it relates to safety.

Because of its evident flaws, the demise of the Waxman amendment is a very positive development, although I would (of course) prefer to see the law fixed. But fixing the law needs to be done the right way. It's time to move beyond message control and the false notion that any amount of lead is dangerous somehow like uranium. We are all adults here, and know that something less than an outright ban of trace levels of lead would work just fine to protect consumers. There may be legitimate consumer concerns over toy safety and the safety of other children's products, but the CPSIA (a law borne in anger) is misconceived as a solution.

Perhaps this crash-and-burn will bring about real change. The best outcome would be an overall change in atmosphere. There is NO REASON that all the stakeholders must continually fight like cats and dogs. When it comes to safety, this is a particularly ridiculous situation. The common interest of all adults is to protect children - NO ONE opposes safety. However, the issues in safety are procedural and economic in nature, which must be acknowledged, and the solution is more complex than may be apparent. It is my belief that a reconsideration of the CPSC's relationship with the market may provide the best "pop" for safety. A reinvigorated CPSC committed to industry outreach and partnership would work wonders. Rebuilding a genuine sense of mutual trust, rather than a mutual sense of fear and loathing, will provide the best long term protection of consumer interests.

This is NOT a pipe dream! In the wake of the demise of the Waxman amendment , we need to move forward TOGETHER to recast the law to facilitate the strength of the U.S. marketplace while protecting the legitimate interests and rights of consumers. No one needs to lose in this process. And a lot of jobs can be saved - if we act promptly and with insight.


Dan and Millie said...

Rick--thanks for the update. I'm very glad to hear that this behind the scenes "fix" has been derailed. I join you in calling for openness and cooperation between Congress, the CPSC, manufacturers, and consumer groups. I agree that now is the time to strike a new tone and find solutions. We know many congressmen and senators, both Republican and Democrat, have heard our voice. We can only hope that Mr. Waxman has, too. This does not need to be a partisan issue, but it does need to be worked out in the full light of day. The time for open hearings is now!

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

WHEW! So thankful the "sneak attack" was thwarted! YAY!!! Let's do this right--in the open--with the full involvement of all concerned parties . . . so that it can be a wise, sensible, and balanced ruling this time!

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

One of my loyal readers points out that uranium decays into lead. Hmmm. According to Wikipedia, there are two decay routes from uranium to lead with half-lives of 4.47 billion years and 704 million years, respectively. That's it, WAY too dangerous - we are taking all the uranium out of our toys even if it hasn't already decayed into lead!

Vivian Zabel said...

Waxman apparently is scrambling to cover his, uh, error. I'm glad he wasn't able to have this band-aide attached to another bill.

Thank you for the update.