Thursday, March 18, 2010

CPSIA - Latest Developments in Waxman Amendment

In a meeting between various business representatives and the Waxmanis yesterday, the Dems set the parameters for moving forward on the Waxman Amendment.

The Dems have established three "goals" for this amendment. The current draft reflects this "vision".
  1. "Targeted" fixes to the CPSIA
  2. A "bipartisan" bill supported by consumer groups, business and Democrats and Republicans alike.
  3. Do NOT open up the CPSIA for reconsideration.

As I have previously noted, the Dems constrain the discussion by limiting what may and may not be discussed and then ask their "bipartisan partners" to make the best of it. This makes bipartisan support quite difficult to achieve because when the Dems present their draft, they indicate that all "compromises" have already been incorporated. This also allows the Dems to portray anyone who disagrees as an obstacle. Bring to mind anything . . . like health care?

In this case, the Waxmanis are saying that the bill basically is where they want it to be, and offer that clarifications can be made in the report language to accompany the bill. [Something new to read, more traps for the unwary.] This strategy will lead inevitably to continuing arguements long into the future about things that used to be simple. This legislative strategy also means that many problems will need to be resolved by litigation - which is a VERY anti-small business approach to legislation. Can you afford to take a case clarifying safety law to the Supreme Court? We are all toast if this how our "community leaders" choose to govern.

Let's think about the situation we find ourselves in. The first circulated draft, according to Waxman staffers, is basically FINAL but clarifications may be made in the report language behind the legislation. Hmmm. That sounds like "take it or leave it". Why would they take that approach? I doubt this is anything more than a political calculation. They put TWO terms in the bill that many companies really, really want and need, namely the modification of the phthalates ban and prospective application of the terrible 100 ppm lead standard. The message is clear - the rest of the bill, riddled with serious problems and provisions that gut existing CPSC practice and protections, would have to be tolerated to get that relief. It's pure Machiavellian politics.

The "take it or leave it" approach is backed up with the implied threat that the bill will be rammed through the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the back of the Dem majority. There is no commitment to a hearing, and besides, Mr. Waxman has a practice of staging hearings in order to control the message.

How "bipartisan"!

The gutting of Section 6(b) and the rejiggering of voluntary recall disclosures is apparently not a reopening of the CPSIA in the view of the Dems. Why? Because they want to make those changes, spurred on by the Consumer Federation of America (Rachel Weintraub) and other consumer groups. Rumorville has it that senior Dem CPSC leaders are also pushing to completely revise these decades-old protections. Push back by the regulated community is being rebuffed, including requests for definitions of terms like "practicable" - why? Because it's not "appropriate" to put "numbers" into the law - they might change in the future. The other numbers already in the CPSIA apparently do not undercut this argument, according to the Dems. Business risk that stems from that kind of uncertainty is of no apparent interest to the Waxmanis.

Makes you wonder how much they really want to help, doesn't it? Is this possibly a sham process to enable them to get a second bite at the apple?

The terrible choice being forced on the business community is to accept some really bad provisions and terrible omissions in order to get two needed changes. The dominance of Waxman in this process has turned the children's product industry into beggars. What a great way to govern . . . .

Under the imperious rule of Henry Waxman, you will get what he wants you to get. I hope you will remember this feeling for years to come. The treatment of the business community here is par for the course for this generation of Democrats. Remember, we are about to get the $1 trillion dollar health care bill WITHOUT A VOTE. They apparently interpret the 2008 national election results as a coronation and are acting accordingly.

I think your views matter. Express them!


Ben said...

What about the Senate? Are they likely to rubber stamp this or will they put up a fight?

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

The Senate is waiting to see what comes out of the House "deliberations". At this point, the Senate is a wild card. Waxman has not treated the Senate well in the past (consider the the December amendment) so who knows?