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Obamacare and CPSIA –How the Latter Predicts the Future of the Former

Monday, April 5, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Washington Examiner column looks at President Obama’s plummeting popularity.

Part of that sharp drop is the result of the hyper-partisan approach he adopted towards Obamacare, part of it flows from the provisions of Obamacare, part from the massive expansion of government underway, and part from the job-killing policies adopted by him and his Congressional allies from January, 2009 forward.

One example of the latter is the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA”). First passed in late 2008, the Act’s draconian provisions concerning lead and phthalates in products intended for sale to children and the product-testing regimes imposed on all manufacturers/sellers/importers have devastated thousands of businesses, cost tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of profits –and for almost zero improvement in the protection of children. Congress has stubbornly refused to amend the law, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission has moved like a glacier in providing even the slightest relief from the Act’s absurd requirements.

I interviewed guests and wrote about CPSIA more than a few times over the past few months — examples are here, here, and here— and continue to hold it out as an example of what we can expect from Obamacare and every other bit of legislation written by ideological extremists in search of headlines.

Yesterday the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman wrote a column about the desperate need for America to create new jobs, and quoted a study by Robert Litan of the Kauffman Foundation:

“Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,” said Litan. “That is about 40 million jobs. That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.”

Friedman went on to use this obvious need to create new jobs to push for wider acceptance of new immigrants with excellent skills sets, which is a good point.

But no matter how great the entrepreneurial expertise, whether home-grown or imported, significant net job creation cannot occur when the president and Congress are indifferent to the regulatory burdens being imposed on businesses, especially manufacturers. CPSIA is the perfect example of how Congress operates in a vacuum, removed from the realities of the problems the legislators believe they are addressing, and so embarrassed by their failures that they refuse to return to the scene of their screw-ups to repair the damage.

I know about the CPSIA because three of my law partners specialize in the Act and I hear every day about the latest large, compulsory expenditure on compliance. I am going to broadcast from Las vegas today, where CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup is addressing the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and hope to bring more attention to the law and its widespread impact. (Northup’s blog is here and I hope she leads off today’s show.) Columnists like Friedman are great cheerleaders of theory, but they ought occasionally to visit the practice of Congressional mandates. They would discover a much quicker way towards job creation –which is for Congress to confront their massive mistakes of the past before creating even more for the future.


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