Today the President issued an Executive Order emphasizing that, as federal agencies carry out their responsibilities to protect the public interest, they also consider how those rules impact economic growth, innovation and job creation. In a Wall Street Journal editorial published today, the President acknowledges that some regulations “have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.” He calls on all agencies to “root out regulations that…are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.” The CPSC could provide a number of candidates for rules that meet this description. For example, aspects of the recently-issued children’s product definition which impose expensive and burdensome third party testing on products that were not traditionally thought of as children’s products – such as carpets and rugs – fall into both categories, that is, not worth the cost and just plain dumb. Aspects of the recently issued database rule would also qualify, e.g. allowing inaccurate information to mislead consumers.
While it is true that independent regulatory agencies such as the CPSC are not formally bound by executive orders, it has been the past practice of this agency to follow executive orders if they are not in conflict with our statutes. This past practice has fallen by the wayside recently. We will soon be considering a final rule on testing and certification. While we have some initial indications from a summary regulatory flexibility analysis that this rule will impose very significant costs on small business, we have not done the analysis called for by the executive order. Without this analysis, the Commission will be acting without full information.
We know that regulations issued by this agency in response to the CPSIA have forced safe products off the market and have driven small companies out of business. Doing the analysis the President calls for could help quantify the impact of our rules on the public – both from a cost and from a benefit standpoint. We need to maintain our focus on safety and health by focusing our regulatory efforts on products that present serious hazards. I hope that we will follow his call.