Trade wars as election stunts

Betty Sutton’s been busy:

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) introduced H.R. 4678, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act, to protect consumers from dangerous and defective products manufactured and produced abroad. Every year, countless Americans are injured, sometimes fatally, by dangerous products that have been manufactured abroad and imported into the U.S. Recent examples included toxic drywall, faulty infant cribs, lead paint in children’s toys, and defective tires. These products not only hurt American consumers, they hurt American businesses.

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act:

  • Requires manufacturers to register an “agent” in a state where the company does business to accept service of process for civil and regulatory claims.
  • Registering an agent will constitute an acceptance of personal jurisdiction of the State and Federal courts of the state in which the agent is located.
  • Covers products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), such as children’s toys; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including prescription drugs and medical devices; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), like pesticides.

If that sounds good to you at first glance, Rick Woldenberg urges you to think again:

The purpose of this bill is to make foreign manufacturers of finished goods and parts intended to be used as components in those finished goods register for service of process in this country. In other words, foreign manufacturers must register here so our plaintiff’s bar and the government can sue them with ease. The new law prohibits trade with foreign manufacturers unless they are registered, and enlists the aid of the federal government’s snarling dog, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, to enforce this law.
This means that every factory we use outside the U.S. will have to register for service of process in the U.S. if we want to continue to import our products from them. The law goes even FURTHER, asking that each agency involved to study ways to force manufacturers of components to register here, too. So, for example, if you make a toy in China and your factory buys boxes from a local printer who has NO contractual relationship with you, this law asks the agencies to study the feasibility of getting such box printers to register for service of process in this country. To accomplish that lofty goal, of course, you have to know their identity. Our customers do not know our vendors’ names and we aren’t telling. It’s none of their business. Do you think it’s any different for our factories relative to us? Will they ever disclose that information to our Mother Government (to them, a foreign government)? Please – would you disclose your sources to the Chinese government? And who pays the administrative and out-of-pocket costs of this exercise? And what about the consequences of the fear factor and the costs of new litigation on markets?

This is an example of how I learned to HATE Congress and Democrats. These rules descend on our business in suffocating waves, adding no value but creating major distractions and feeding fear. On the other hand, perhaps I will be eating crow when Obama’s recently announced master plan to reduce the deficit by two-thirds in three years through increased spending, increased entitlements, increased taxes and increased regulation works like a charm. Maybe this law is part of the implementation of that great plan.

That’s how progressives like Betty Sutton work to “fix” unemployment. Do you feel encouraged yet? Check out what a well-respected lawyer has to say about the CPSIA, which Betty apparently thinks is too weak and needs strengthening with her new bill. Betty’s bill could be the next Smoot-Hawley Tariff. The first one helped trigger the Great Depression. Remember that when you see Betty’s TV ads touting her concern for “the little guy” and her tireless work to “create or save jobs.” It’s a protectionist election year gimmick that will result in serious pain later.


Here’s the latest version of the bill available so far.

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