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“Stopping The Destruction of American Health Care”

Thursday, February 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My new Townhall.com column is up.

UPDATE: Another CPSIA horror story:

Hi Hugh-

Again, thanks so much for doing this story!!! I never thought of it from the health care angle, but that is sooooo true! Arg!

I am a small business owner, a work at home mom, and the wife of a PhD student. Money is tight in our house, so even with my full time job that I do at home, my two year old to take care of, and all of the household duties, I decided to start a business last summer to help us make ends meet.

I make safe teething toys from quilting cotton I buy from Jo-Ann fabrics and stuffing made from PLA fiber (which is basically corn made into a stuffing for toys that is not petroleum-based). Nothing in my toys are toxic, or even have the potential for being toxic. Cotton fabric is notoriously lead-free, and the stuffing has no phthalates in it because it is not plastic. Regardless, I will be required to test my toys for lead and phthalates. I just started up my business last year in June. From June to December, I sold my teething giraffes in 36 different fabric patterns. Under CPSIA I would be required to test each and every fabric pattern for lead and phthalates. The estimated cost for this testing would be around $90,000. I only brought in (before expenses) $4500 last year. I would be running a deficit of $85,500. Obviously, I wil be put out of business by this law.

I sell my giraffes wholesale to a few baby boutiques, but mostly on etsy.com. There are hundreds of thousands of shops on etsy and elsewhere that will be shut down by this law. I’ve been writing and calling and meeting with everyone I can think of, but I’m not sure the voice of the small business work at home moms will be heard over the voice of the leftist lobbiest groups that are for this law as-written.

Thank you so much!

–Suzi Lang
Starbright Baby Teething Giraffes

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CPSIA and Health Care “Reform”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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 hugh@hughhewitt.com.

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!

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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