Thursday, Nancy Nord, acting head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission told
the Senate Commerce Committee she didn't like and didn't need its Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007 that would more than double the agency's budget over seven years; give her 400-member staff another 100 workers, and increase its fining power from the current $1.85 million to $100 million.
This, in a year that has seen both an unprecedented number of recalls of unsafe products and the kerfuffle in May, when Michael Barody was forced to withdraw his nomination as the new head of the CPSC because it was discovered he was a highly paid lobbyist for the National Asociation Of Manufacturers. See fellow Wizbangblue writer Paul Hoosan's post, at that time. Somehow it all seems par for the course for the Bush Republicans to gut whatever non-military parts of the government they supposedly had been elected to run not undermine.
For years, the CPSC have complained they were understaffed and underfunded. Nord's solution is to hollow out the Commission even further and edge closer to the firms, whose products it is supposed it inspect for the safety of the ..consumers not the corporations.
Then on Friday, we learned that because of a 'limited travel budget' CPSC took advantage of industry paid trips offered to them. The worst offender you guessed it...
nearly 30 trips since 2002 by the agency's acting chairman, Nancy Nord, and the previous chairman, Hal Stratton, that were paid for in full or in part by trade associations or manufacturers of products ranging from space heaters to disinfectants. The airfares, hotels and meals totaled nearly $60,000, and the destinations included China, Spain, San Francisco, New Orleans and a golf resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Nancy Nord, who is she? Does she have a long list of consumer protection experience a la Ralph Nader?...Not exactly.. The Public Citizen picks up the story
It is now apparent that the agency's modus operandi is to avoid strengthening the commission if it means that it will interfere with serving corporate interest groups. Acting Chair Nancy Nord was a corporate lawyer for Eastman Kodak and the Republican Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce Committee, specializing in product liability and consumer protection legislation (for the corporations side).
'The New York Times' in an editorial today 'Playing Games with Toy Safety' summarizes the administration approach of hiring a fox to guard the hen house' (or in this case, hiring a vixen.)
Ms. Nord, who is supposed to be the consumers' advocate, has more often echoed the views of manufacturers' lobbyists. She has argued that voluntary compliance by business is the only way to promote safety when an agency as small as hers is charged with overseeing more than 15,000 products. She is right that self-policing by industry is crucial, but her agency lacks adequate resources: it has just one full-time toy tester. Remarkably, she has been resisting calls for it to get those resources.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!