Friday, March 02, 2007

Bush Choice For CPSC Head Criticized

President Bush said Thursday that he would nominate a senior executive of the largest organization representing the nation's manufacturers to head the government agency assigned to protect consumers from dangerous products.

Bush's choice of Michael E. Baroody, executive vice president of the National Assn. of Manufacturers, to be chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission drew an angry response from consumer advocates and predictions of a tough battle for Senate confirmation from the Democratic majority.

Critics, noting Baroody's work for an organization that aims to ease restrictions on a long list of companies making consumer goods, said the nomination would reflect an administration effort to restrict government regulations by executive order and action, rather than by congressional approval.

"I think it's shocking," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, a watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader. "It's the fox in the chicken coop."

Claybrook, who led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under President Carter, said, "They wanted a hard-liner in the agency to push it into the deregulation mode."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, established in 1974, issues safety standards for a wide range of products, including lawn mowers, toasters, toys, clothing and furniture — nearly all consumer products except motor vehicles and guns.

It investigates reports of dangerous products, issues recalls and shapes regulations. It also has the option of taking no action on complaints or investigations.

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