Monday October 01, 2012
Northup Joins Debate over Regulatory PlanBy Sean Oberle
CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup September 19 weighed in on the ongoing debate among commissioners about the agency’s regulatory reform plan. Most notably, she characterized as “a scurrilous accusation that borders on defamatory” and actions that “knowingly misrepresents my public statements and demonize my character” the written statement of Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioner Robert Adler regarding her position on selecting rules for review under the agency’s regulatory reform project. She wrote (her emphasis):
“My colleagues correctly attribute to me the view that rules should not be selected with the purpose of strengthening them, rather than reducing burdens, but then mischaracterize my position with: ‘In other words, should our rule determine that a safety standard has failed to protect consumers from unreasonable risk, we should do nothing and remain focused exclusively on burden reduction activities.’”
This is, of course, the exact opposite of my acknowledgement that ‘a rule subject to review may require strengthening or complimenting’…as if I would advocate doing nothing in the face of evidence that a safety standard failed to protect against unreasonable risk…[It] flies in the face of the fact that I have taken a hard stand against dangerous products.”
She also addresses differences about the type of cost-benefit analysis needed, explaining:
“The ‘notion’ of what a cost benefit analysis is does not even begin to describe the differences between our offices on the issue, as the Democrats’ repeated invocation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act to prove their support for cost benefit analysis illustrates. The RFA requires agencies to examine the economic impact of their regulations only on small businesses, not on the entire market. In addition, it does not require agencies to forgo or modify any rulemaking as a consequence of that analysis. Here at the CPSC, RFA analyses invariably become a speculative and cursory look at a rule’s effects, usually concluding that some significant number of businesses will close due to a rule. But never has that conclusion caused any of my Democrat colleagues to vote against or request a change in a rule. Thus, while the Small Business Administration may well attribute $200 billion in savings to the RFA…I can well attest without a doubt that the RFA has saved zero dollars at this agency since I became a Commissioner. It is no wonder my colleagues champion the RFA; it requires the measurement of cost without any need to ensure that the benefits justify the costs.”
She also defends her description of Tenenbaum and Adler’s preferred plan as the “Democrats’ plan” as not partisanship but simply a shorthand that is more accurate than “majority plan” now that the commission is evenly split.
Northup’s remarks are online at www.cpsc.gov/PR/northup09192012.pdf. They follow those of her fellow Republican Nancy Nord (PSL, 9/24/12, p. 1), who also criticized the remarks of Tenenbaum and Adler (PSL, 9/17/12, p. 1). The Democrats’ joint statement was in response to earlier criticism by Nord and Northup (PSL, 8/8/12, p. 2) concerning the 2-2 tie on party lines that stalled the effort.