“Who Needs Legislation? Dems Want To Extend Tobacco Settlement To E-Cigarettes” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] “E-cigarettes are bad because they look like cigarettes. E-hookahs are worse because they don’t.” [Jacob Sullum; more from Sullum on the unanimous vote by the Los Angeles city council to ban vaping in public places]
“So long, and thanks for all the nannying,” I write at Cato, recalling my 2011 non-fan-letter to the California lawmaker. His most recent appearance in these columns came for using his official position to try to boss around a newspaper owner. At the Examiner, Tim Carney writes that Waxman’s seeming aloofness from K Street involvements did not suffice to redeem a legislative record replete with “bloated, counterproductive government.. paved with good intentions.”
P.S.: An unsparing political obituary for Waxman from Tony Quinn at Fox and Hounds, the California political blog. “Few members have contributed more to the partisanship, extremism & dysfunction of Congress than Henry Waxman.”
Could it be that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — known for his extensive involvement in pharmaceutical issues over many years as a Congressional nabob, and for his long, close alliance with the plaintiff’s bar — is really unfamiliar with the story of Bendectin, one of the staple horror stories of litigation run amok in the drug field? [Carter Wood, ShopFloor] Background here, here, here, etc., etc. The whole clip, starring Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), is worth watching: Bilbray wonders aloud whether there are any lawyers he can sue when unfounded lawsuits put needed medical technologies out of reach.
- Thomas Sowell on EPA dairy-spill regulations [NRO, earlier at Cato here and here] It’s the miracle federal agency: “What doesn’t the EPA do?” [ShopFloor]
- President’s State of the Union medical malpractice gesture, cont’d [PoL, more, Ted Frank/Examiner, NJLRA, related, earlier here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.]
- Fired minor-league Yankees mascot files wage-hour suit [ESPN]
- Ohio sheriff prepares criminal complaint against reporter for asking him questions [WHIO via Balko]
- It all happened so suddenly: Henry Waxman now disapproves of the use of subpoenas for fishing expeditions [Mark Tapscott, Examiner; earlier]
- Should hospitals ban cameras from childbirth? [NYT “Room for Debate” with contribution from Jim Harper, Cato Institute]
- Non-“flagrant” trespassing OK? Tort liability shift in Third Restatement [PoL]
- Nope: “At this time, I would like to formally accuse Walter Olson of having an intern or something.” [Ron Miller]
I’ve got some thoughts up at Cato at Liberty on the demotion of a Capitol Hill strongman, mentioning his hectoring hearing style, his staff’s propensity to micromanage federal agencies, and, of course, CPSIA (& welcome Instapundit, Damon Root/Reason “Hit and Run”, Chris Fountain, Daniel Blatt/Gay Patriot, Prof. Bainbridge, Carter Wood/ShopFloor, Memeorandum readers).
The website of the Golden Cockerel import firm includes a rather elaborate warning as to why its matryoshka are not meant for the under-12 set, at least not since the enactment of the calamitous Jan-Schakowsky–backed law:
the law requires each batch of toys be tested by a 3rd party laboratory to be sure they are “toy safe.” Such tests can cost well over $1000 per nesting doll set! And sometimes, as with our museum quality one-of-a-kind dolls, a “batch” consists entirely of one doll, or only a few, making it totally unfeasible to test.
CPSIA: reserving treasured toys for strictly adult use since 2008.
More: The CPSC has just sided with purported consumer groups and against pleas from the business community in adopting a broad definition of what constitute “children’s products” under the disastrous Barbara-Boxer–backed law: for example, ordinary paper clips must go through costly separate CPSIA testing when meant for kids’ use as part of a science kit with magnets and similar items [NY Times, AP/WaPo (“Kids’ science kits may take hit from safety ruling”), Commissioners Anne Northup and Nancy Nord]
I called the lab, got the quote and did the math. CPSIA-mandated testing costs for my little product line was over $27,000 for just over $30,000 worth of product. I cannot express the horrible feeling I had when I realized that I had made a mistake that was going to cost my family all of our money. …
I blame every one of the Energy and Commerce legislative staffers.
— Jolie Fay, crafter, SkippingHippos.com, guest post, AmendTheCPSIA.com
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
Readers of this site will recall that as reports rolled in last year of the calamitous effects of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the Congressional leadership, and in particular key lawmaker Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) steadfastly refused to hold hearings or in general acknowledge that the law was causing systematic ill effects of any sort. As resale outlets across the nation swept harmless winter coats from their shelves or stopped dealing in kids’ goods entirely; as librarians warned that whole collections of pre-1985 books would need to be either put through prohibitively expensive testing or simply discarded; as makers, importers and sellers of perfectly harmless apparel, school supplies, furniture, musical instruments and other children’s items puzzled over ruinously high testing costs and bans on common materials like brass; as smaller, craft-oriented producers began folding, leaving the market to be served by the largest mass-production toymakers and retailers (many of which had supported the legislation); as the kids’ motor vehicle industry, including makers and sellers of dirtbikes and mini-ATVs, found itself transformed overnight into outlaws; even as all this unfolded, Henry Waxman and his counterparts on the Senate side kept the lid clamped down tight on any Capitol Hill airing of such woes. Eventually Waxman held a hearing with exactly one (1) witness, Obama-appointed CPSC chairperson Inez Tenenbaum, who sought to put the best face on the law. (After a false start, a House small business committee lacking actual legislative jurisdiction was also allowed to hold a more varied hearing.)
In recent months, without of course admitting any error whatsoever, representatives of Waxman’s office have been quietly floating amendments intended to correct some of CPSIA’s most blatantly impractical elements. The fixes would be likely to help in some specific areas where opposition has been vocal and influential, such as children’s books and mini-vehicles, while affording much less relief, or none at all, to many others trying to cope with the law. At the same time, Waxman’s staff has been demanding that “business” (conceived as if it were some monolithic group) gratefully sign off on the fix as acceptable and perhaps even accept new provisions that would increase CPSIA burdens. While many affected groups are understandably eager to reach a deal, others, such as persistent critic and businessman-blogger Rick Woldenberg, are reluctant to sign off on obviously partial and inadequate fixes as if were going to solve the wider problems with the law.
The fixer amendment has gone through several iterations; its current draft is here (PDF), named the Consumer Product Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, or CPSEA (more background from the committee, PDF, via ShopFloor). Now, at long last, Waxman has agreed to hold a hearing tomorrow (to be chaired by his colleague Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.). The witness list includes persons from Goodwill Industries, the National Association of Manufacturers, Handmade Toy Alliance, and the Motorcycle Industry Council — all of which groups have apparently agreed to support the legislation — as well as Rick Woldenberg of Learning Resources Inc., who continues as a critic, and Steve Levy of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Of course the difference now, and the reason some of these groups at long last will get their chance to testify, is that they have agreed to testify at least nominally on Waxman’s and Rush’s side — perhaps in some cases while biting their tongues.
We’ll be reporting more in days to come. In the mean time, this would make a good occasion for news organizations to renew their attention to the public policy disaster that CPSIA has wrought.
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
Some views you probably won’t be hearing during today’s highly orchestrated Capitol Hill events [Ed Wallace, Business Week] Regarding that “declining quality at Toyota” meme [“The Truth About NHTSA Complaints,” TTAC] Sudden runup in count of deaths “linked to” possible Toyota acceleration is from newly filed reports on old cases [Fumento/CEI] Commentary from Richard Epstein [Forbes.com via Damon Root, Reason “Hit and Run”] Former trial lawyer lobbyist David Strickland, now helping lead charge against Toyota as NHTSA administrator, was principal author of ghastly CPSIA law [Amend The CPSIA] Also: links to ongoing Point of Law coverage.