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Talk about a fox guarding the hen house, the Bush administration recently nominated a lobbyist and Executive Vice President of the National Association of Manufacturers to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Describing the consumer safety purposes for its existence, the CPSC:

is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

On the other hand, according to the National Association of Manufacturers:

The NAM’s mission is to advocate on behalf of its members to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers by shaping a legislative and regulatory environment conducive to U.S. economic growth and to increase understanding among policymakers, the media and the general public about the vital role of manufacturing in America’s economic and national security for today and in the future.

• The NAM is the leading advocate of a pro-growth, pro-manufacturing agenda.
• The NAM is a partner in reinforcing the legislative and regulatory activities of its member firms.
• The NAM is a primary source for information on manufacturers’ contributions to innovation and productivity.

The NAM mission presents different objectives than does the CPSC. In fact, often the NAM agenda conflicts with the CPSC agenda. For example, the CPSC rules require disclosure of defective and unreasonably dangerous products so that consumers would have updated information available to them. According to the consumer group Public Citizen,

Last year, NAM and its allies successfully pressed the CPSC to weaken the sharpest enforcement tool in its arsenal – a safeguard that requires companies to disclose hazardous products – showing that a clear conflict-of-interest afflicts Baroody’s nomination.

The same group indicated that in the past, more than $18,000,000 in fines had been levied by the CPSC against NAM member organizations. According to Public Citizen, inherent problems exist by appointing a lobbyist for an organization that advocates for reduction or elimination of CPSC fines and reduction or elimination of other reporting regulations as the new head of the CPSC tasked with the responsibility for levying fines against manufacturers and requiring disclosure of safety problems and product hazards.

Do you believe that this appointment presents a problem? Can a lobbyist who advocates an agenda opposed to the CPSC be appointed to head the CPSC without concern or does this appointment present a true example of a fox guarding the hen house?

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