Will the GOP Help Keep Lead in Kids’ Toys?

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On Saturday, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted to slash funding for federal agencies across the board, setting the stage for an epic budget battle next month. In the meantime, though, industry lobbyists have been steadily waging war to water down new federal regulations that protect consumers, and the New York Times highlights a prime example. Toy manufacturers are targeting new safety regulations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission “that would require third-party testing to determine the safety and lead content of children’s products,” the Times reports. They’re also going after a new database that allows the public to find injury reports on cribs, strollers, and other children’s products. 

Unsurprisingly, the industry lobby has found sympathetic Republicans to back them up, along with a handful of Democrats from manufacturing-heavy states. The GOP has already targeted the new safety rules that were passed after the public outcry in 2007, when millions of hazardous toys, mostly from China, were recalled. Republicans are now arguing that the new rules are too onerous and could spur frivolous lawsuits:

Already, Representative Mike Pompeo, a newly elected Republican from Kansas, has succeeded in passing an amendment to an appropriations bill to strip financing for the consumer products database, arguing that the idea needed to be tweaked to protect manufacturers from bogus complaints and lawsuits.

Representatives of consumer groups, meanwhile, are fretting. They said they were worried that the tougher standards they fought for, and seemed to have finally won, were now in jeopardy.

“You have folks who are seeing that there is a chance to undo consumer protections that they never liked in the first place,” said Ami Gadhia, policy counsel for Consumers Union.

Since the GOP’s rout in the midterms, industry lobbyists have felt newly empowered to target other federal regulations as well, ranging from new health reform rules to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases. Though the House GOP’s budget fight has captured the spotlight, much of the debate is political theater at best, with the most draconian cuts unlikely to become a reality. By contrast, these behind-the-scenes battles—fueled by deep-pocketed lobbyists—could end up doing significant damage to existing federal regulations while everyone’s attention has been diverted elsewhere.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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