Monday, 14 March 2011

In Passing

Haven’t quite “got it” yet

“We just can’t let go”  Dept

Last Thursday’s Investor’s Business Daily carried an editorial (“Light, Liberty, And...”) praising Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act (HR.849).  I agree: Any effort to overturn 2007’s infamous incandescent-lamp ban – a goal that’s item #1 on Jeff’s list – is certainly praiseworthy.
But the devil, as usual, lies in the details.  And it turns out that the details in HR.849 don’t actually repeal the ban.  Instead, they attempt to block the ban’s enforcement  by imposing some “impossible” conditions:
...Bachmann’s Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act would rescind the CFL mandates unless three conditions are met.  First, the bulbs must show “net savings in the combination of monthly electric bills and expenses for new light fixtures to accommodate the new required bulbs.” ...  Then it must be proved that mandated use of CFLs “will reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2025.” ...  Finally, it must be shown that “there are no public health risks from the mercury in replacement bulbs at home or in any public building.”

The GAO [General Accounting Office] would make these determinations, but Bachmann believes they can't be satisfied.
So should HR.849 pass, the ban wouldn’t be eliminated altogether; instead it would survive as subterranian cruft, waiting to be awakened as soon as somebody at the GAO can be convinced to say, “Go!”.

There are two things wrong here:

First, at a time when we have an Environmental Protection Agency that declares carbon dioxide a “hazardous pollutant,” and an Attorney General who is blind to voter harassment provided it’s done by “his people” the Black Panthers, should we trust unelected (but politically-aware) bureaucrats to continue to agree that “conditions” are not met, no matter how “impossible” they might be?

And second, the bill itself shows that in her third term Bachmann has gone native- succumbing to the dreaded D.C. Tinkering Syndrome.  Because
The bill should read: “Americans can buy whatever kind of light bulb they want.”
instead of giving us a clean repeal and a clean slate, Bachmann’s bill tweaks the law to achieve her desired outcome.

This same thing would have happened with last term’s HR.968, the failed attempt by John Shadegg (R-AZ) (and 23 cosponsors) to do something about the horrible unintended consequences of 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  Instead of eliminating the problem provisions and replacing them with something sensible, the HR.968 authors spent twelve-hundred-some words over 53 paragraphs in carving out a series of “small business” exemptions.[1]  The problem: The bad parts of the existing legislation would have remained, still ready to nail any business that might ever grow “too big” to be “small.”.

It’s almost as if there’s an Iron Law of Washingon Power: Once assumed, power is never relinquished, and the best we peons can hope for is that our “representatives” might act to minimize the horrors.

As one IBD commenter noted,
The bill [HR.849] should read: “Americans can buy whatever kind of light bulb they want.” ...  We don’t need another politician or lawyer, just action: direct and simple.

Indeed.  Direct and simple appeals to me:  Up-or-down votes on legislation that says what it means.  Not this endless patching and trimming that creates so much undergrowth that eventually no one, including the people who pass the laws and those who have to enforce them, can really know what the law is.  And I’m especially fed up with legislation so obscurely-worded that gives hiding places for both its supporters and its opponents.

Although Bachmann isn’t on the list, she still couldn’t make HR.849 a 1-sentence bill.  That, along with the disappointing performance of Republican leaders on the budget, shows that when it comes to changing the attitudes in Washington, our friends there haven’t quite “got it” yet, and we voters still have much to do.

[1]  Meanwhile, the company whose lead-contaminated Chinese imports started the whole ruckus, Mattel, has been repeatedly exempted from CPSIA provisions.  Ain’t crony capitalism wonderful?

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 19:45:21 GMT | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 First part of the bill is easy, unless Bachmann is REQUIRING us to buy new fixtures to accomodate the bulbs, even thogh most of the current fixtures work just fine. Third part is easy unless the bulb is broken, then the mercury in the air of an enclosed home might reach the same level as cooking bottom-dwelling fish in the early 1990s, before current mercury regulations went into effect. As for the second part, I thought Bachmann was squarely in the 'no global warming' camp. So is she now acknowledging global warming? If she isn't, then why is she writing in CO2 emissions as a standard? And where is all her talk about 'too much regulation from Washington'? I thought she was OPPOSED to this kind of crap, now she's WRITING it. BTW didn't her boy Duh-buhya SIGN the CFL legislation in the first place? I'm guessing one of her corporate sponsors is losing some profit margin due to the CFL change-over. And further proof that We The People have ZERO representation in Washington.

Posted by: Dan B at 03/18/11 16:24:33 (JMgdT)

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