The President’s budget, submitted to Congress today, contains a request for $122 million to fund the CPSC. I voted to support this funding request, but with reservations. In a statement posted today I outline some of my concerns over how the agency proposes to spend these requested funds.
Congress gave the CPSC a huge task when it enacted the CPSIA. Although the law gave the agency important needed enforcement tools, it also changed a regulatory system that was, for the most part, working well to assure that regulations, once issued, were based on science and with an eye to minimizing the economic impact on those being regulated while achieving a true safety goal. The CPSIA changed that equation and we are now pushing out regulations with little knowledge of their economic or safety impact. To the extent that the agency has any flexibility to change that result, we should. Therefore, I am disappointed that the majority again this year rejected my request that the budget allocate resources to do cost benefit analysis when we are regulating under the CPSIA.
The public database also requires a large allocation of funds under the 2012 budget. As I have argued before, there is a real question as to the safety payback of this very expensive undertaking as it is currently structured. In a time of scarce resources, we have an obligation to use public resources to assure that our safety mission is carried out in the most cost-effective manner possible. I question whether using tax dollars to set up a competitor to “Yelp.com” with a government imprimatur is the best use of scarce resources.
I have other concerns with our budget. However, my bottom line is that if Congress wishes us to undertake the activities they have given us, then they must provide appropriate resources. Our obligation is to use these resources in the best possible way to carry out our mandate.