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Protecting corporations, not children 

Lowdown

In assessing today's politics and public policy, it's always helpful to reflect back on previous experiences in our nation's long history — way back to, say, 2007.

It seems so long ago, doesn't it, but you might remember it as "the year of the recall."

Four summers ago, millions of toys, cribs and other products manufactured in China had to be pulled from store shelves by Mattel and other marketers because they contained lead, toxic paint or other dangers. Public outrage forced a large, bipartisan majority of lawmakers in 2008 to beef up the staffing and enforcement authority of the then-dormant Consumer Product Safety Commission. Congress gave a strong and clear mandate to CPSC to protect our children from being poisoned or maimed by these products.

How's that working out, you ask? Well, that was then, and now it's another story.

Emboldened by demands from Tea Party Republicans that Congress reduce "Big Government," toy industry lobbyists are crying that the safety commission's new rules are too intrusive, too costly, too onerous ... too much. In particular, the industry wants to kill a public database that CPSC set up so consumers themselves can report any product hazards they find and can search for injury reports on a particular product before buying it.

This is an effective, low-cost way of policing product safety, because it directly empowers us consumers in the marketplace.

Of course, the corporate powers hate that. So, sure enough, one of the newly minted Tea Party Republicans, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, rushed to soothe the fevered brow of the corporate interests. His amendment in the House cuts all of the funding ($3 million this year) for our consumer database.

So, in keeping with today's politically correct ideology, the Toy Boys get small government, and children get small protection.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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