Thirteen million toys have been recalled in the last two months due to unsafe levels of lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — the watchdog agency charged with protecting consumers from such risks — has exactly one full-time toy inspector. That’s right, one. It has 15 inspectors who oversee all of the imports under the agency’s jurisdiction — a $614 billion market.
So when the Senate took up legislation to double the agency’s budget, beef up its staff by 20 percent, impose stiffer penalties for company and executive violations, and “give the commission broad new powers to police the marketplace,” it of course would have no greater advocate than acting chair, Nancy Nord, right?
Who are you kidding — not in this White House.
According to the New York Times, the former lawyer for Eastman Kodak sent not one, but two, letters opposing the bill . Whistle-blower protection (which not even industry opposes), increased transparency for reports on faulty products, and raising the cap on penalties from $1.8 million to $100 million are just some of the measures Nord finds most objectionable.
“It was remarkable to send a letter like that to a committee, when you’re in dire straits and you need increased funding and you’ve acknowledged that,” Ellen Bloom, director of federal policy at Consumers Union, told the Times.
The Bush administration’s ideological contempt for any government role in protecting the public interest is limitless. So, even though Americans are already more vulnerable, for example, than other developed countries when it comes to the safety of our children’s toys, you can count on the Bushies to continue to gut the government so that their cronies in Big Business continue to have their run of the place.