CONGRESS’ ANTI-CONSUMER-SAFETY CONTINGENT…. On her show last night, Rachel Maddow had a segment on the political efforts of the right-wing Koch brothers, and there was one data point that I hadn’t heard about before.
First , a little background. In 2007, following a series of scandalous incidents, federal officials created on online consumer-product-safety database, allowing Americans to go online and access free information about the safety records of household products. It passed the House unanimously, sailed through the Senate, and was signed into law by George W. Bush.
Who could possibly oppose this? Why would even the most unhinged Republican reject giving Americans free access to such materials? Or as Rachel asked, “Dear Lord, who is going to object to consumer product safety information being put online?”
The answer, it turns out, is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas, who ran a surprisingly racist campaign, and won last year thanks to generous support from his largest campaign contributors, the Koch brothers and their political action committee. Pompeo also happens to represent the district where Koch Industries is located.
As it turns out, the Kochs don’t care for the consumer product safety database, so their congressman pushed a measure to delay and weaken it. As the Kansas City Star explained, Pompeo wanted to push off implementation “to give Congress a chance to make changes that both he and the business community would prefer.”
The point of the database couldn’t be any more of a no-brainer. The Consumer Safety Product Commission has valuable information, but faces challenges in reaching the public. For very little money, the government has created an online resource that will help families make more informed choices, and create a new incentive for manufacturers to put safe products on the market.
As Michael Lipsky explained today, “One would think it hard to find a politician who opposes reducing preventable dangers to children. [Pompeo] has stepped up to this challenge.”
Pompeo’s proposal, an amendment to the House spending-cut bill, was approved with 227 Republican votes, but it’s not expected to be part of the compromise with the Senate. Still, the fact that he tried, and that the GOP backed his measure, should tell voters a great deal about the party’s priorities.