Nord Must Go

Does this President hate children?

Does the Decider think that being the “Leader” must mean he is an advocate of “Lead” in toys?

This week a large recall of lead-tainted toys was announced:

Yesterday’s toy recalls were just the latest in a long parade involving lead-tainted children’s toys. Since August, toy giant Mattel has issued 3 separate toy recalls for lead hazards and other problems. In June, the RC2 Company recalled more than 1 million lead-tainted Thomas and Friends toy trains. Children’s jewelry and character notebooks have also been recalled for the same reason. And earlier this month bookmarks, Halloween pails and children’s puppet theaters, along with toy animal figures sold at Wal-Mart have all been recalled for excessive amounts of lead. Lead can cause a wide range of health problems, including learning disabilities and brain damage, if it is ingested by small children.

And more recently:

party favorsAnd finally, just in time for Halloween, the CPSC recalled 43,000 sets of “Ugly Teeth” party favors sold at various retailers throughout the country from January 2007 through October 2007 for $2. The fake Halloween teeth, which children are supposed to put in their mouths, contain 100 times the permissible level of lead.

Lead poisoning may have very serious consequences:

There may be no noticeable symptoms of lead poisoning because the effects are subtle or may mimic other conditions. When lead poisoning levels are severe, some general symptoms can include digestive problems, fatigue, headaches, and higher rates of tooth decay.

Children with chronic lead poisoning may show slightly lower intelligence and may be smaller in size than children their age who do not have lead poisoning. Behavioral problems can include irritability or aggressiveness, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

In adults, behavioral symptoms can include irritability, mood and personality changes, changes in sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and memory loss.

At high levels, lead can affect the central nervous system, leading to poor coordination, weakness in hands and feet, headaches, and in severe cases, convulsions, paralysis, and coma.


So did our Congress fail us? Did they fail to fund the Consumer Product Safety Commission? As reported:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — Over the objections of the Bush administration, a Senate committee unanimously adopted sweeping legislation on Tuesday that would extend the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and sharply increase its budget and staff.

Objections?

The bill would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate safety laws. It would ban lead in toys and give state prosecutors the authority to enforce federal consumer safety rules. Ms. Nord has objected to those and other provisions in the measure.

Objected?

Why?

Ms. Nord, a former lawyer at Eastman Kodak and a former official at the United States Chamber of Commerce, recently sent lawmakers letters attacking the legislation as unworkable and counterproductive, mirroring concerns raised by manufacturers. Those complaints have been rebutted by the agency’s Democratic commissioner, Thomas H. Moore, who generally supports the Senate bill.

Mirroring concerns? Perhaps just maybe voicing their concerns? As their spokesman?

Maybe this Administration is concerned more about profits than protecting children. Maybe that is why they vetoed the SCHIP legislation. Especially the failure to cover minority children. After all, it is minority children that are also hardest hit by lead poisoning. Is it surprising that it was minority children that were hardest hit by Katrina as well?

Unfortunately, access to health care in the region—as in many other parts of the country—is deeply inequitable, as low-income people and communities of color face higher rates of unin-surance and highly fragmented health systems in which patients with private insurance are treated in better hospitals and health systems than those who are uninsured or have public sources of health insurance.8 Louisiana, in particular, operates a unique safety-net system, one in which a state-supported network of hospitals and clinics provides much of the uncompensated care, with the effect that health care is largely segregated along income and insurance status lines:

  • In New Orleans the Medical Center of New Orleans, which included historic Charity Hospital, provided two-thirds of the inpatient care to the uninsured in the city. Nearly three-quarters of its patients were African American, and 85% of all patients made less than $20,000 a year. By contrast, the other hospitals in the city provided only 4% of inpatient care for uninsured patients.9

But this isn’t about race. It isn’t about people of color. It is about the color of money.

Children and especially minority children are victims of greed.

The Industries she was paid to regulate paid for trips where they could lobby the former lobbyist. It wasn’t a hard sell.

But it isn’t surprising anymore.

This is a Government and an Administration with the ‘For Sale’ sign out front.

The Medicare Plan D was written by drug lobbyists to prevent the government from negotiating with Big Pharma for lower prices.

The bill passed, extending limited prescription drug coverage under Medicare to 41 million Americans. According to Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a non-partisan healthcare watchdog group, it purposefully allows drug companies to charge more by preventing Medicare from negotiating prices. As a result, one government agency will pay more for drugs than another will. “The [Veterans Administration] does bargain and they do it successfully,” says Pollack. “Medicare could do the same thing, but Medicare is prohibited from doing that as a result of this new Medicare legislation.”

Several lawmakers who worked on the bill have since joined firms that lobby for the drug industry, including the man who steered the legislation through the House, former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who also chaired the House committee that regulated the pharmaceutical industry. Tauzin retired to become the president of Pharma, the drug industry’s top lobbying group — a $2 million-a-year post.

But this is really old news.

President Bush has been hiring lobbyists as regulators for a long time.

As far back as 2004, The Denver Post reported on this cynical approach to managing the hen house with foxes.

The president’s political appointees are making or overseeing profound changes affecting drug laws, food policies, land use, clean-air regulations and other key issues.

Government watchdogs call it a disturbing trend, not adequately restrained by existing ethics laws.

Among the advocates-turned-regulators are a former meat-industry lobbyist who helps decide how meat is labeled; a former drug-company lobbyist who influences prescription-drug policies; a former energy lobbyist who, while still accepting payments for bringing clients into his old lobbying firm, helps determine how much of the West those former clients can use for oil and gas drilling.

This isn’t really new. It is even getting difficult to develop a sense of outrage over outrageous things.

Nancy Pelosi has said it best:

“Any commission chair who does not, in the face of the facts that are so clear, say we don’t need any more authority or any more resources to do our job, does not understand the gravity of the situation,” said Pelosi, who has been joined in her call for Nord’s resignation by other Democrats in the House and Senate. “I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation.”

Nord, in an Oct. 24 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, said a Democratic bill doubling the agency’s funding and giving it greater authority to inspect and recall products “could have the unintended consequence of hampering, rather than furthering, consumer product safety.” She specifically complained that the additional responsibilities the bill adds will make it more difficult for the agency to do its job.

The White House also opposes the legislation passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday.

It is time for Nord to go. It is time for our leaders to protect our children, work to prevent the importation of unsafe toys laced with lead, provide our children with the insurance that they need to keep them healthy, work to prevent the continued trends in pollution that lead to global warming, and bring about fiscal responsibility that will prevent our children and grandchildren from having to bear unbelievable financial burdens from irresponsible tax cuts and deficit spending.

For a President who claims to be a values leader, why so much hate of our children?

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About Robert Freedland

A concerned American and supporter of Senator John Kerry, I am the author of the blog "John Kerry for President 2008". I am also the author of the stock market investing blog, "Stock Picks Bob's Advice".
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3 Responses to Nord Must Go

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    Maybe Bush should explain that government jobs are HARD WORK. It’s even tougher when you have to piss off your friends and maybe miss out on a future lucrative job.

    And another parallel to failing Rome. One of their problems was supposed to have been that the wealthy had lead in their metal dishes and cups. Too many stupid kids among the ruling class. Now, of course, it is the poor kids who get the toxins.

    The greatest nation in the history of man?

  2. AndrewZE says:

    Good post.

    It’s very sad when the things our kids eat, wear and play with can make them sick. I check http://www.leadtoyrecalls.com to make sure I am on top of all the latest lead recalls. I get an email alert from them automatically whenever there is a new recall.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    Ronnie was the first to my knowledge to hand management over to an enemy of the function of the agency being managed, but GWB certainly can be said to have raised this to an art form.