Having delayed the mark-up of the CPSIA Amendment bill (ECADA), the House is out of session for the next week. The timing for resumption of the consideration of this bill has not been released.
I think it is incumbent on us to make a fuss over this delay and to press our Congressional representatives to act to pass this law. Other industry groups are pushing for the meager and surgical relief offered by this law - but the Dems continue to resist. The Dems moan and groan as though ECADA guts the CPSIA, perhaps banking on a docile media to not challenge their characterization of a very balanced and frankly, rather undramatic bill. In fact, I was just interviewed by a reporter whose opening question was why the controversy over a bill that changes so little about the CPSIA. Good question.
I have an explanation to offer you - it's just politics, pure and simple, 100% politics. As previously noted, the Republicans were sensitive to the excesses of the law before it was passed. Given that the CPSIA was passed in August 2008, as America headed to the polls en masse to overwhelmingly elect Mr. Obama as our President, all members of Congress (other than Rand Paul and three others) saw the wisdom of supporting this bill. The political cost of opposition to the CPSIA was unbearable - as my own representative told me face-to-face in July 2008, even though the CPSIA was over-the-top, he had to vote for it, otherwise he would face election commercials accusing him of defending corporations over children's safety. He would not sacrifice his job over this vote. He assured me that Congress usually goes too far in its bills, but would go back in 12-to-18 months to fix it.
Not in this case, apparently.
So the Republicans, like the Democrats, preferred the safe route politically in the summer of 2008, but by all appearances, wanted to go back and fix the bill as predicted by my district's representative. To their credit, the Republicans have used the majority power in the House restored in the 2010 midterm elections to reach out to both sides on this issue, as well as to the Dems, to find appropriate middle ground on this contentious issue. [I have discussed these efforts in this space over the course of 2011.] The new General Counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gib Mullan, is the ex-General Counsel and ex-Director of Compliance and Field Operations at the CPSC, so let's posit that he understands the law pretty well from all angles.
Even with this new horsepower (intellectual and political), the Dems haven't responded to the Republicans' entreaties and resolutely won't yield on any points. They continue to fight ECADA tooth and nail. Why?
It's politics, just politics. Drop any notion that the Dems care about you . . . or your employees . . . or your suppliers . . . or your dealers . . . . or the consumers, teachers, families or schools that want, need and use your products every day. Jobs, schmobs. The well-documented and negative consequences of the CPSIA on our markets and economy (not to mention the paltry or nonexistent acheivements of the law) are just not on the Dems' radar. They only care about getting reelected - their concern is simply themselves. As in 2008, the ECADA issue is tailor-made for political gains. As far as I can tell, that's too tempting a morsel to pass up, damn the consequences on the "little people". The Dems argue to the populace that anything that makes the world better for your business necessarily makes life worse for kids. Zero sum. It's a stupid, nonsensical argument, but if you give it no thought, it might SOUND good. The Dems know their position makes them look good to a dozing electorate and a gullible media, and makes the Republicans push a lot of chips into the center of the table to do the right thing for our country.
The Dems are also catering to their power base, the consumerists. The consumer groups have their own axes to grind. For one thing, if they give an inch here, some people might accuse them of being hypocrites. After all, they have repeated the Big Lie ("There is no safe level of lead") for so long that it would come as a shock and disappointment to their true believers if they conceded the (intentional) error of their bumper sticker slogan. In addition, their budgets are paid for by trial lawyers. If they give in, there will less money available for tort lawyers to suck out of the system. That won't work, will it?
So the Dems are opposing restoring sanity to the safety laws for entirely self-interested political reasons. Not ONE Democrat has EVER broken with the Waxman line. They have stuck together like glue. Hats off to them for being well-organized. But the Dems should be ashamed of themselves as public citizens - by putting their own PERSONAL interests ahead of the country and its economic engine, they are taking the low road. Throwing our company, our jobs, our products, the families and schools that need our products, throwing everyone under the bus all to save their own jobs - that's contemptible. This is your government at work.
Please reach out to your Congressmen to express your outrage. Send emails and faxes, and ask your friends, relatives and associates to do it, too. Let's clog the inboxes with complaints. It's time to stand up for what's right!