Yes, of course, this is an unspeakable outrage, though, sadly, not a particularly surprising one. The Bush Administration, we learn, has for some time been thwarting efforts to crack down on lead painted toys from China: the reason, it seems, is that maintaining a “manufacturer-friendly approach” to regulation is more important to them than protecting our kids.
A disgrace, yes, but also an opportunity to, quite literally, save lives. We can do this by using this travesty to effectively frame and thereby discredit the right wing’s hostility toward effective consumer protection. It’s time to show conservatism’s anti-regulation mania for what it is — a philosophy that makes corporate profits a higher priority than the safety of our kids.
But first to the outrage itself:
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration and China have both undermined efforts to tighten rules designed to ensure that lead paint isn’t used in toys, bibs, jewelry and other children’s products.
Both have fought efforts to better police imported toys from China.
* * *
The Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts, consumer advocates say. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children’s products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.
“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”
If Democrats can’t frame this in a way that fatally discredits the right’s approach to government, they’re in the wrong line of work: Thomas the Tank Engine with lead paint? Dora the Explorer posing potentially deadly safety threats? Jesus, conservatism couldn’t look more heartless if Bush were to personally slap the Gerber baby in the face.
But there’s a lot more at issue here than just Bush: no, this is about what’s wrong with the whole “greed is good” dogma that constitutes the principal governing philosophy of the Republican Party: a governing philosophy that consistently puts corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of the American people. That is, after all, what government regulation is supposed to be all about — keeping our people, and especially our children, safe.
For over 25 years, the political right has been waging war against government (while at the same time sucking it dry through crony payoffs). And for far too long, no one, not even Democrats (can anyone say “The era of big government is over?”), has fought back. Now we’re paying the piper, with the excesses of largely unregulated capitalism crashing down all around us — everything from the crisis in unregulated lending, to lax mine safety measures, to lead paint in the toys our children play with.
The time to tell that story, bluntly and without apology, is now
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