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John Bisnar
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Bush To Appoint Fox To Guard Hen House

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Appalling and distressing news report from consumeraffairs.com.

According to this article posted Friday on the group’s Web site, they have inside information that Michael Baroody, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a powerful trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation, is President Bush’s choice to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Is this April 1st? Is this an attorney joke? Or did this get reported on Friday, the day the President habitually releases the “bad news”, because it is traditionally the day of the least press coverage. In other words, fewer people will hear about it.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with,

“…protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death….”.

A great President, enlists the very best talent available for every governmental position. A great President, in choosing the head of the CPSC would logically choose the most qualified consumer advocate that he could convince to take the job.

Why did this President choose a man who has been the chief lobbyist for a powerful trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation? A man who opposes the whole purpose of the governmental agency that he is being appointed to lead.

President Bush, through executive orders is changing the consumer laws in our country. Only the legislative branch of the government is empowered to wheeled law making powers. However, this President has found a way to circumvent Congress and make laws that are more sweeping than anything Congress could ever pass.

President Bush is working to effectively give immunity from liability to the industries that have been his best supporters and highest campaign donors. If the FDA approves a drug, this President wants the maker to be free from liability to consumers, taking away their right to a trial by jury. If an automaker complies with the minimum safety regulations, set up by NHTSA, an under funded, under staffed, out of date governmental agency, the automaker is free from liability. Many NHTSA regulations are thirty years old. How much have our automobiles changed in those thirty years?

The CPSC has recently been near powerless to enact new rules or levy fines on violators because of its constant turn over in commissioners. They keep quitting the post. There has been two commissioners since Chairman Hal Stratton, another Bush appointee, who abruptly resigned six months ago – ironically enough — to become a lobbyist. I wonder if he is taking David Baker’s old job.

Who knows how many defective and dangerous products are flowing into the market because of CPSC’s lack of leadership and mission focus. Now, with this anticipated appointment, I fear that Bush will push for overall immunity from lawsuit for any company that complies with the minimum federal government standards as set by CPSC. Talking about the inmates running the insane asylum.

According to the Consumer Affairs article, David Baker, a lawyer who represents companies before the CPSC, said he has heard from a number of “private Republican lobbyists” that the appointment “is likely to be a recess appointment.” This essentially means the nominee can take his or her place at the commission for one year without Congressional approval. I wonder why our President wants to circumvent Congressional approval?

President Bush will be doing the entire nation a huge disservice by sneaking this lobbyist for manufacturers into head an agency whose job it is to question and challenge that very group. The President has certainly outdone himself this time with his tendency to put cronies and yes men in positions that require a supreme sense of integrity and commitment.

As an attorney advocating the rights of consumers, I fear the erosion of consumer rights in our country. As a citizen of this country, I fear the continuing and further blunders of this lame duck president.

CPSC should be setting safety standards, second to none in the world.. The bar for manufacturers – whether they make automobiles, washing machines, medicines or baby food – must continually be set higher. Not the other way around. With this appointment the National Association of Manufacturers won’t need lobbyists.