Anne Northup is a Republican commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission who represented Louisville, Kentucy in Congress from 1997-2006. In her column today in the Wall St. Journal she describes the great harm caused by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It is because of the CPSIA that I call the Consumer Product Safety Commission the “toy police.”
With the unemployment rate stubbornly high and President Obama focused on job creation, it’s a perfect time for Congress to revisit a law that’s making our economic problems worse, and spoiling Christmas for many kids to boot. Thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), small businesses like Baby Sprout Naturals and Whimsical Walney have already closed their doors. And some 40% of companies responding to a Toy Industry Association survey planned to eliminate jobs this year because the cost and complexity of compliance with this law is too great. For manufacturers and sellers of children’s products, perhaps a renewed interest in saving small businesses comes in the nick of time.
The safety legislation, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008, is a study in the law of unintended consequences. The new law reduced the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s longstanding discretion to act in response to genuine risks, substituting instead the rigid, broad-brush, and unscientific judgment of Congress