February 11, 2009
Lead-proof Legisltion
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "CPSIA is now shaping up as a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation, threatening to wipe out tens of thousands of small makers of children's items from coast to coast, and taking a particular toll on the handcrafted and creative, the small-production-run and sideline at-home business, not to mention struggling retailers. How could this have happened?" - Walter Olson

Subject: Lead-proof legislation

Congress passed the Consumer Product safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) last Summer. This bill is so poisonous we're launching a campaign to repeal it. This toxic law . . .

  • Requires expensive lead testing of ALL children's products, including those, like books, with no history of lead contamination
  • Would drive many small manufacturers and hand-crafters out of business.

There are other harmful consequences that we'll explain when we launch our new campaign tomorrow. Today we explain how such a bad law got passed. Here's the problem: Congress wants to regulate everything from on high, but they do nothing to regulate their own broken legislative process.

We think this toxic bill might not have passed at all, or been so bad, if's "Read the Bills Act" (RTBA) was the law of the land. Think about it. Under RTBA Congress would have had to read every word of this bill. Had they done so . . .

  • Many members of Congress would have realized the huge impact it would have on small businesses in their districts.
  • More members would have raised questions, proposed amendments, or changed their minds and opposed the bill.

It's important to remember that this bill was passed because of lead contamination in Chinese toys, but the CPSIA isn't narrowly targeted at that problem. Instead, the bill ropes in the entire U.S. economy, small dress-makers, book publishers, and others with no history of putting children at risk.

RTBA would force Congress to focus and prioritize, because they wouldn't have time to craft and read vast monstrosities like the CPSIA. Congress would have had a big incentive to write a bill focused directly on the Chinese problem, instead of burdening the entire American economy.

After seeing how, or if, their scheme worked with Chinese products, they could have then extended it to other products, if needed. They didn't need to go for the Big Bang approach.

The RTBA also requires bills to be posted on the Internet for seven days before a final vote can be held. Had this provision been in place for CPSIA, small businesses could have read the bill and called attention to its unintended harmful consequences in advance, instead of scrambling to deal with the fallout after the fact.

Instead, the news of the law's adverse effects have trickled out over several months. Many businesses that pose no lead threat at all now face the prospect of closing their doors because of the expense of complying with this new law. That's precisely what we don't need in this bad economy.

But now the only remedy is to repeal the law, which is very difficult.

We must prevent this kind of thing from happening again.Please use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to tell congress to pass's Read the Bills Act.

Use your personal comments to tell Congress that you know about the harmful unintended consequences of the CPSIA. Use our explanation above to tell Congress how the RTBA would have actually improved the bill.

Please also add your blog or website to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. In return, we'll add your blog or website to the coalition list on our website, and mention you in a future Downsizer-Dispatch, which goes to more than 24,000 subscribers. You can join the Coalition here.

This week we welcome five new members to the Coalition:

Thank you for being part of the Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President

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