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Fixing CPSIA, Now

Wednesday, February 25, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Yesterday marked the first day that plaintiffs’ attorneys could file suits against anyone selling goods covered by the Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act –basically anything intended for use by children. This draconian law continues to sweep across the retail world and to cause economic damage that is deep and enduring. The impact on all-terrain vehicles, for example, was clearly not foreseen by Congress but the strict liabilities of the Act have forced the withdrawal of tens of millions of dollars of product from the market and a resulting devastation on the industry.

Listening to the president last night promise recovery, it occurred to me that the appropriations bill now moving through the Congress is a vehicle for CPSIA reform. At a minimum it ought to include a rider that delays the effective date of CPSIA for another year. Alternatively, it could provide funding to replace the suddenly worthless inventory covered by the Act and an exemption for the resale market. (Thrift shops and other charitable resellers have been particularly hard hit by CPSIA given their very low profit margins and their inability to afford pricey compliance lawyers.)

The recession has already slammed many retailers. Allowing CPSIA to continue its rollout, now accompanied by legions of plaintiffs’ lawyers, is the equivalent of the old medical practice of bleeding the ill. Congress can fix this, and should.

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The Speech

Tuesday, February 24, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Nicely delivered, and it remains inspiring to see an African-American conduct the rituals of the presidency. The First Lady was also full of obvious cheer, and her embrace of the young girl from South Carolina after the president referenced her touching letter was the best moment of the night.

I liked the pledge to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, the pay of all military and benefits for veterans, and hope that isn’t accomplished by taking a 280 ship Navy to 250, etc.

The trouble with the speech, of course, is that what the president promises to do simply cannot be done, because the costs are so staggeringly high that the economy cannot bear all or even most of them absent the sort of renewed economic growth that soaring tax rates will snuff out.

The problem with President Obama’s agenda is that it is built on serial fantasies, fantasies which ignore the real benefits of things such as nuclear power and oil exploration. The president’s talk was well phrased and beautifully delivered, and deeply disconnected from the realities of economic growth.

Congressional Democrats have the numbers to push through many of the things the president wants, but each concrete proposal will travel the same course as the porkulus traveled –from high flown rhetoric to disappointing legislative language to off-putting low and deceptive politics. The president’s negative ratings soared in one month, and that’s a trend that will continue because the American people continue to view government with suspicion and to resent the vast waste of tax dollars they have already seen on a scale never before witnessed in D.C.

Thomas Ricks’ “The Gamble” and Bill Lobdell’s “Losing My Religion”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Today’s broadcast leads off with Thomas P.M. Barnett in another of our series of conversations about his new book Great Powers. The transcript will be posted here later and the podcast here.

I’ll also be joined by Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus to engage in some speculation about the president’s address, and by Chuck Colson for another in my series of conversations about evangelicals in the Obama era. So a full show. Tomorrow, of course, we’ll pick over the president’s speech withMark Steyn, Lileks and others.

But don’t miss Thursday’s when Thomas Ricks and Bill Lobdell will both be in studio, back to back.

Ricks’ The Gamble is a fascinating, detailed examination of how the U.S. snatched victory from chaos in Iraq, and it is really an extraordinary bit of reporting.

Lobdell’s Losing My Religion is a memoir of his life and faith journey over the past two decades. Full disclosure: Bill’s my closest friend, and I play a walk-on role in the memoir, but don’t believe me that the book is an important read, check out the Christian Science Monitor’s review.

The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace

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