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CPSIA and Health Care “Reform”

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This week I have been trying to educate my audience on the disaster that is the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which went into effect on February 10. (Here is the podcast of an hour I devoted to it on Monday with Snell & Wilmer lawyer Gary Wolensky, an expert on the statute.)

After last night’s speech by President Obama I am convinced it is crucial that the fiasco of CPSIA be explained again and again to the country for the simple reason that if Congress is so absolutely incompetent in a relatively simple statutory undertaking so that it quite recklessly crushes hundreds if not thousands of small businesses and costs hundreds of millions of total losses to thousands of manufacturers, then imagine what Congress will do with a complicated system such as health care.

Further, if Congress refuses to act quickly to fix obvious train-wrecks it has caused like the CPSIA, we have to assume it will not act to fix the many mistakes it will make when it radically changes the rules of health care. “Once done, impossible to make undone,” is the operational reality of the Congress as special interests move in to protect turf (even as plaintiffs’ bar will fight any attempt to fix CPSIA which will be a volcano of cases for them.)

I discussed CPSIA with both Mark Steyn and E.J. Dionne today, and while mark was aware of the law’s absurdity and costs, E.J. was not yet read up on it. Conservatives should push CPSIA as exhibit one in what we will get out of any massive “reform” this Congress launches in any area. There is a competence gap between ambition and execution that guarantees massive fiascos if President Obama gets his freight train of laws, and CPSIA is proof of that.

Transcripts of the interviews with Steyn and Dionne will be posted here later.

If you have a CPSIA horror story –like the pen manufacturer who called the show today to discuss how his entire back-to-school season orders are suddenly imperiled– send it to me at

UPDATE: An e-mail:

Hugh- Help!

You are the only rational voice still discussing the draconian Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act and I’m hoping you can elaborate re: revocation/amendment to this ridiculous Act.

I am a franchisee of a quick service hamburger chain sitting on $30,000 in obsolete inventory as a result of this act due to the phthalate content of our kids meal toys, which by the way had been deemed safe for years but have suddenly (first week of Feb 2009) and with no notice been determined to immediately be hazardous and non saleable. It’s a terrible blow to discard this inventory as I struggle to pay my bills in the middle of this recession. My publically traded franchisor wants me to surrender my inventory to our distributor for immediate destruction. I’m desperately holding on to my inventory (though no longer distributing it) in the hopes that the Act is revoked or suspended to give retailers a chance to work the existing plastics out of their inventories and avoid serious losses.

You allude to an “appropriations bill” moving through Congress that can address/resolve? Can you elaborate on its progress/timing? Can you identify any politicians who may be behind an effort to modify/delay/revoke this act? I’m hoping resolution comes quickly as I can’t hang on to my inventory indefinitely without raising the ire of my franchisor…

Thank you and keep up the good fight!


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