Thursday

Crippled Safety Regulators Doing Nothing

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the one federal safety agency responsible for monitoring millions of consumer products for safety dangers to you and your family. Yet they have been hamstrung with repeated budget cuts and a temporary chairman who is so anti-consumer that she didn't want Congress to give the CPSC more money to do its job.

In a wild understatement, Senator Mark Pryor (Ark) said "This is an agency in distress." In fact, it's the third year in a row that the safety agency has had to trim its staff to fit within its decreasing Congressional funding.

The new CPSC budget will not even cover its rent costs and inflation and forces the public safety agency to fire 19 full-time employees. That means fewer people to make sure manufacturer’s products are safely built in the first place. It also means fewer people to investigate consumer complaints or press manufacturers for recalls of dangerously defective products.

Despite that, acting CPSC chairman Nancy Nord defied Senators who offered to increase her agency’s budget. When repeatedly asked "Could your agency benefit from a larger staff?" Nord dodged the questions before finally saying, "We are not necessarily better equipped with more employees." It’s a rare day in Washington when politicians can’t give away money to a bureaucrat, even one who doesn’t want to use it to do her job.

A good example of how repeated budget cuts have hurt the Consumer Product Safety Commission is their ancient product testing facility, which is actually located in a former missile tracking site built in the 1950's and not updated in 32 years. That’s like living in a house that you haven’t done a thing with in 32 years. Not a new frig, not a microwave, not a new roof, not paying the driveway...nothing. And these are the people who are supposed to make sure every consumer product is designed and built safely.

It probably explains why in February the Associated Press reported that the CPSC purposely did not recall children's lunch boxes that may have contained dangerously high levels of lead. Lead can cause poisoning and here it was being put into kids school lunch boxes.

To top it off, the CPSC is run by a board of commissioners and they don’t have enough people doing the job to even take a vote on any action they might want to undertake! That’s certainly one way to cripple safety investigators.

To take charge of the cash-strapped and crippled safety agency, the President nominated Michael Baroody, a lobbyist at the National Association of Manufacturers. NAM is one of the nation's largest trade groups and it strongly opposes any aggressive product safety regulation. Baroody has a long history of anti-consumer experience. A good example of his organization's self protection efforts can be found by reading their article "Don't Beat Up Big Oil".

Sounds like the fox was hired to guard the henhouse ... may we’ve got the wrong farmer in charge of the farm?

Click here to write your congressman and complain. Let them know you’re watching what they are NOT doing. Politicians don’t like that and maybe that’ll keep them honest.