Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Definition of “Children’s Product:” Whether you’re in, might be in, or still confused...Welcome to the black hole of CPSIA regulation!

Today, the Commission had a golden opportunity to put a fence around those products definitely covered by the CPSIA as well as exclude those products which we know pose no risk and which do not HAVE TO fall under the statute. The comments received by the public on this proposed interpretive rule defining “children’s product” by and large asked for just this type of clarity. They also made the case for how a number of everyday, safe products could be reasonably excluded from the requirements of the CPSIA—given, of course, that the law has nothing to do with risk.

But instead, the Commission went in the opposite direction, adding in more products than required and adding products even beyond what was first proposed to the public.

The consequences for whether a product is “in” or “out” of the definition are tremendous: if you’re in, you must pay to have your product (every piece of it) third-party tested, certified, and have a tracking label—which has led many small businesses to leave the children’s market or simply close their doors. Oh, and if you make a product for ages in the grey area (age 10, 11, 12….and older) and really needed this rule to let you know where you stand, you may just now be realizing that the final answer is “it depends!” –which means, somebody out there (i.e., the CPSC, a state attorney general, a retailer) may consider your product a children’s product. Manufacturers of furniture, clothing, or products made for the “tween” years may be learning for the first time that they’re even subject to the law’s non-risk-based lead-content standards.

So much for trying to reduce unnecessary government regulation, protect jobs, and preserve choices for consumers—so much for common sense.

Click here for my official statement on the Final Interpretive Rule: Interpretation of a Children’s Product

ALSO: Read the AP story and New York Times Front Page story covering this issue

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you!”

A brand new “Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman” at the Commission is being advertised as a way to help small businesses impacted by the CPSIA—something that may be taken as a cruel joke by those businesses that have already been forced to close their doors or are exiting the children’s product market. What help will a new government office for “outreach” be able to provide, if we as a Commission continue to do very little to mitigate the unintended consequences of the law through our own regulations? Not much……

That is why I could not support today’s vote to create a new government office at the CPSC dedicated to outreach and education.

Furthermore, new government offices or programs, no matter how small, take on a life of their own. They grow and grow—no matter how innocent the original intentions of their creators. It is precisely such mission creep in federal spending that continues to make headlines every day and with which the American people are fed up. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks said it best in their recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal:

"Individually, these things might sound fine. Multiply them and add them all up, though, and you have a system that most Americans manifestly oppose—one that creates a crushing burden of debt and teaches our children and grandchildren that government is the solution to all our problems. Seventy percent of us want stronger free enterprise, but the other 30% keep moving us closer toward an unacceptably statist America—one acceptable government program at a time."

Are we listening? I don’t think so…

Click here to read: "The Size of Government and the Choice This Fall"

Click here to read my official statement