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The Washington Toy Story

December 12, 2009
Timothy P. Carney

A staple of Obamanomics is the regulations, pitched as consumer protection, that functions as Big Business protection. We have seen this at work in the toy industry.

“The year of the recall,” as some people called it, saw recalls of Dora the Explorer and Barbie dolls due to excessive lead in the toys’ paint. Mattel, the largest toymaker in the world, recalled more than two million toys. All the recalled toys were made in China.

Obama, after backing away from a pledge to ban all Chinese-made toys, put his support behind a bill called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This bill passed Congress in July when Obama was on the campaign trail, so he missed the vote. But he issued a joint press release with another Democratic senator reading, in part, “‘Keeping America’s children safe from dangerous products must be a top priority’ said Senator Obama. . . . ‘I urge the President to sign this bill into law as quickly as possible.’”

When Obama entered the White House, he made enforcing this law a priority. His nominee to head the Consumer Products Safety Commission, Inez Tenenbaum, testified during her confirmation hearings that “one of the things that is urgent is the full implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which you passed last year.”

Although standing up for child safety is a pretty safe bet politically, this bill isn’t all puppies, rainbows, and smiling babies. Like most Washington regulation, it has a sordid backstory. And, as with most instances of Obamanomics, Big Government has been a boon for Big Business and a bane to smaller competitors.

The story continues …..

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