Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CPSIA - Feb 10th Approaches and the CSPC Sucks Its Thumb

How do you feel when someone you depend on treats you inconsiderately? Think of a co-worker, a partner, a family member. Think of a situation where through their own disorganization or self-absorption, your closest associates let you sweat it out, flap in the wind. Worry mounts, pressure builds - but nothing happens.

Do you like it? Does it build confidence in that relationship?

We are experiencing this phenomenon once again with our trusted partner in safety, the CPSC. The expiration of the testing and certification stay is due to occur in about two weeks now on February 10th. The conditions precedent to lifting the stay, namely completion of the hilariously-named "15 Month Rule" (it was due to be completed on November 14, 2009) and the components testing rule, were not completed. These two rules were issued in draft form earlier in 2010 and after howls of protest . . . nothing. Did this affect the CPSC's plans? Apparently not. No action, no comment. Silence. [The Republican Commissioners have been talking about it but don't have the votes to force movement. Safety IS a partisan issue, it turns out.]

With mere days to go, the CPSC is letting thousands of businesses plan for unknown contingencies. What rules will apply? What will the world look like if the stay is lifted and these critical rules are not settled? Even worse, would the Commission jam through clearly defective rules just to "save face"?

It seems that the shabby treatment we get from the CPSC has hit rock bottom . . . and they have started to dig. O wonderful world.

The last time the Commission faced this question, they acted on December 9, 2009 to extend the stay for a year to February 10, 2011. In other words, they did not let the children's product market flap in the wind and gave ten weeks notice that disaster was not looming. Of course, their extension of the stay was designed to permit finalization of rules that, ummm, they never finished.

So now they prefer to jerk us around, rather than face the music and admit their own failures. This is politicians behaving badly, to save their own reputation at the expense of your business and your market. Better that you should suffer than that they should look bad. Or incompetent. Accountability is not part of the lexecon.

All is not lost, however. Rep. Darrell Issa is calling over oversight on over-regulation, and the CPSC is on that list. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also named the CPSIA as the top priority of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Agenda. The government is listening. Is the CPSC?

What will happen? One thing's for sure, you will find out soon. If the Commission extends the stay, as they should, the wolf will move away from the door. Even if that happens, however, the CPSC should be shamed. They are now in the middle of the third year of implementation of a defective law and have yet to admit that it can't be done. That's their real crime - the sin of denial. The solution requires political bravery - standing up to Mr. Waxman and Mr. Pryor and telling them the TRUTH. The Democratic leadership at this agency failed that test and re-fail it every day as they persist in sustaining the illusion that the law makes sense or is workable.

Stay tuned!

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