By Martin Bosworth
One of my first pieces on Barack Obama was critical of his tone-deaf attitude on the safety of imported products made in China and other countries–an issue which has vaulted into the public eye due to the strings of recalls of products because of lead toxicity, manufacturing defects, and a million other deaths by a thousand cuts.
Well, it seems that he has listened to the outcries and modified his stance considerably, because he advanced a proposal last week to double the funding of the Consumer Product Safety Commission if he is elected President:
“I’ve challenged the Bush administration and the toy companies to do a better job of protecting our children from unsafe toys, especially those made in China,” Obama said. “And I introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell a toy that has more than trace amounts of lead – and that’s a bill I’ll sign into law when I’m President.”
Speaking at West High School in Waterloo, Obama presented outlined his proposals to improve product safety:
â€¢ The U.S. needs to have inspectors on site in China, as Japanese officials do for food safety inspections.
â€¢ Obama said he would drastically increase fines for toy companies not abiding by the rules.
â€¢ Expand the CPSC’s regulatory powers and establish mandatory inspections to ensure imported toy safety.
â€¢ Work directly with China and the World Trade Organization on the issue.
As I’ve said before, this issue may not be as sexy or high-profile as Iraq or global heating, but it’s an essential issue that has real-life relevance to millions of Americans. Everyone who has had a child injured or killed due to a defective swing or playpen, everyone who has seen a pet die from poisoned food, and the legions of unidentifiable chemicals that may contribute to diseases and syndromes in our children has a stake in demanding and ensuring better, safer products for ourselves and our families.
Good for Obama for bringing this to the forefront, and for most likely realizing how grievously he erred in his earlier statements. Next I hope to see the other candidates match or exceed the gauntlet he has thrown.