Dr. Ron Paul Casts Only Vote against Ban on Lead in Toys, Ban Passes House 424 to 1

Rep. Ron Paul, M.D., (R-Texas) the former Republican and Libertarian Party candidate for president, cast the only vote against banning lead in toys in the House of Representatives yesterday:

Alarmed by a year of recalls targeting millions of tainted toys, the House voted overwhelming Wednesday to ban lead and other dangerous chemicals from items such as jewelry and rubber ducks that could end up in kids’ mouths.

The legislation also would toughen rules for testing children’s products and take steps to give more muscle to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was criticized last year for its feeble handling of a flood of goods from China deemed hazardous to children.

Even flat-earthers like Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the committee that first passed the ban, were in favor of it. “[Our] children’s toys will be tested in the laboratory before they are tested by our children on the living room floors of America,” Barton said, in a prepared statement.

Key to the libertarian philosophy is the idea that citizens should take responsibility for themselves — that government’s role should be limited to protecting the country from its enemies but little else. For example, government should not provide pensions like Social Security or medical aid through systems like Medicare.

Libertarians also believe that in situations like this, when toy manufacturers infuse their products with enough lead to cause brain damage in children, it is up to the market to punish them.

But dealing with a sudden rise in the incidence of lead in toys is a glaring example of how the libertarian approach is impracticable. By voting against the ban, Dr. Paul is saying that toy manufacturers should be free to put whatever poisons they like in their products, and then, after enough children become brain-damaged to cause a panic, the market — the toy-buying public — will exact its punishment by taking away the manufacturer’s revenue.

Dr. Paul has five grown children, and it would be interesting to know whether he really believes the laissez-faire interests of Chinese toy manufacturers are more important than the health and safety of his 18 grandchildren.

On the other hand, Paul has never been an ideologically pure libertarian. While he apparently believes the government has no business protecting children from malfeasant toymakers, he is firmly in favor of passing laws to regulate the pregnancies of American women as well as the exclusion of gays from the civil right to marry.


  • Melissa
    December 3, 2008 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    As Donk, and others have stated, this bill doesn’t magically make our kids safe. It puts the burden of proof on the manufacturer. And what does that mean? That you won’t be able to go down to the local market & buy a handmade locally made wooden train set for junior because that person who does woodwork on the side cannot shell out $10,000 for testing to prove that he/she isn’t using lead based items. Nor can a work-at-home mom who makes clothes, diapers or other kids items afford the testing to prove that the fabric she got from Joann’s fabric is lead free. Joann’s won’t have to prove that it is, because it is fabric in their hands, but in a WAHM hands it becomes a children’s item and there lies where the proof is needed. Instead of the “buy USA”/buy local movement, the only choices will be shoddy items made in sweatshops because of the volume of items that are made there, the way the letter of the law is.

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  • Robin Smith
    December 15, 2008 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Protecting our children (indeed, all people) from lead exposure is a GOOD thing. But this is a STUPID law, poorly written and if it is not modified, it will do incalculable harm to the U.S. economy. Go see nationalbankruptcyday.com for more information on this, but the short version is that every small manufacturer of clothing for children (not toys, here, but clothes) will be put out of business by the insupportable testing burden this law imposes. Textiles are inherently lead free, and while dyes may add some lead, dyed fabric still meets the no more than 100 ppm standard the law requires as the ultimate goal. I am not a supporter of Ron Paul for any reason, but you have to wonder if he is the only one of our elected representatives who read and understood the ramifications of this law.

  • indnajns
    December 25, 2008 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Now that a few months have passed and the truth of this law comes out, Ron Paul is seen as the LONE congressman with a brain to see past his nose. Amazing how someone so vilified as “wanting to allow lead in baby products” is now obviously the only sane person up there voting! I don’t care about his stance on marriage, abortion, hiccups, green shoes, or whatever else they’re whining about. I care about his vote on this one law. He saw through it. *421* other legislators did NOT. Knee-jerk reaction PR was good enough for them.

    The man at least votes his conscience and not what the well paid lobbyists want. Amazing how many Americans have issue with that.

  • January 6, 2009 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe he was voting against regulations, but against THIS amazingly stupid regulation.
    Check out the stats, kids are not being poisoned and having brain damage from lead toys. Yes, a few children have had elevated lead levels. This is not so amazingly outrageous as to ban every single item made for a child until it has gone through $1200 worth of testing. You can’t spend $1200 to test a $5 barette. It is outrageous!
    How are parents going to pay for clothes? They are going to more than double in cost, and you will NOT be able to buy used clothing under this law.
    Do you have any idea how much a package of diapers is going to cost now?
    68% of children’s products are small businesses, and they will not be able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for testing. That is more than half of the business going under. What is that going to do to the economy? How about unemployment?
    Who is going to pay for that?

    I don’t know Ron Paul, but I am guessing that he was actually the only one who READ the law and the only one with enough balls to not vote for it. With some major changes, this is a needed law. Right now it is a nightmare.

    I am kissing my business good-bye. And my suppliers are going to lose more than 80% of thier customers. They won’t be able to stay in business, either.

  • January 7, 2009 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I’m not a Ron Paul supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but now that we actually know what the law does this piece looks more and more ridiculous.
    Libertarians love lead let’s go!

  • Jive Dadson
    January 15, 2009 - 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Ron Paul’s foresight and courage never fail to amaze me. Unless something is done quickly to repeal this horrible law, an untold number of mom and pop makers and retailers of all natural and used toys and clothing will be forced out of business in early February. Thrift stores will also suffer. Many will be forced to take huge losses on perfectly good inventory that will be illegal to sell in the US. Read all about it: http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/

  • Sasha
    February 19, 2009 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    BARRY DONEGEN: Thank you for that extremely eloquent defense of how the free market handles problems like this more quickly and effectively than government can.

    TERRY: 1st, we are not a Democracy, we are a Republic. Learn the difference. 2nd – Do you really think the people control the decisions of a Democracy? Have you been paying any attention the last 200 years? You write your congresscritter, you get a polite form letter back, and then they vote with whoever can fill their campaign coffers. That’s how it works 98% of the time. American Democracy is an extension of corporate rule. This is a law that puts moms and pops out of business, so that we will have to buy all our toys from China. They might feign indignation, but do you really think Mattel is against this?

    JON: on the Constitutional point. The Commerce Clause gives Congress the ability to “regulate international commerce.” In your estimation, does that include the power to made thrift stores throw out all of their children’s books and merchandise? Is that “International Commerce?” This law vastly oversteps the Commerce Clause, and is blatantly unconstitutional. But, noone cares anymore. Thousands of unconstitutional laws, dozens of unconstitutional wars… but you dare smear someone who speaks out against these just because you disagree with his stand on abortion. You’re as bad as a Christian Coalition types who has a “litmus test” for a pro-life stance.

    Ron Paul voted heroically on this, voting with common sense and the Constitition and against the “save our children” demagoguery. Proving once again that he and Kucinich are the only two people in that house with a shred of integrity or independent thought.

  • Dean Larson
    November 24, 2011 - 7:31 am | Permalink

    in the vernacular at the time it was written, ‘regulate’ meant ‘to make smooth’.
    NOT legislate and dictate.
    Politicians have warped this to allow themselves to side-step/ignore the intentionally anti-central govt Constitution and empower themselves.
    It’s the “Commerce Clause” loophole: if it touches on ‘commerce’, no matter how tangentally, the feds feel they can intervene…and dictate…and tax.

    This desecration of the intent of the Constitution (do you think for a second that the writers would have severely ham-strung the central govt…but then say: “but if it has anything to do with commerce, do whatever you want”???)
    is probably the single most responsible factor in the reason we have the invasive, dictatorial, corrupt, ever-taxing behemoth we have today in WashDC.

    • November 25, 2011 - 5:12 am | Permalink

      Dean, Judge Laurence Silberman for the D.C. Circuit Court, a Republican partisan with a history of behind-the-scenes political activity on behalf of your and Dr. Paul’s party that is of questionable legality, could not disagree with you more. Silberman, who was a powerful but secret leader in the in the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to unseat Pres. Clinton in the 1990s, just this month ruled that the individual mandate was constitutional by citing the definition of the term “regulate” from the standard dictionary of the late 18th century:

      Writing for the majority, Judge Laurence Silberman begins his substantive analysis by quoting the text of the Commerce Clause: “Congress shall have Power … To regulate commerce … among the several states.” The legal issue in the case is whether the words “regulate commerce” extend to the regulation of economic inactivity—to force people to take the action of purchasing health insurance. Employing a classically originalist approach to interpreting the Constitution, Judge Silberman does not consider what the words “regulate commerce” might mean today, but instead references Samuel Johnson’s 1773 dictionary to determine what those words meant to those who ratified the Constitution in 1789. Johnson defined “regulate” to mean “to prescribe certain measures,” or “to adjust by rule or method.” To “regulate,” Judge Silberman reasoned, “can mean to require action, and nothing in the definition appears to limit that power only to those already active in relation to an interstate market.” Judge Silberman concludes: “There is therefore no textual support for appellants’ argument.” To a true conservative, and to most everyone else, a constitutional argument that has no “textual support” in the language of the Constitution is an argument that will lose almost every time.

  • Dave
    February 25, 2012 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Laurence Silberman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, which shows the ‘impartiality’ of our judiciary. So while you’re right that he’s a powerful but secret leader in a vast conspiracy, it’s hardly a “vast right-wing conspiracy”. To invoke him as an authority, and to imply that his ruling carries more weight as a statement against party interest, is to use an old ruse called a ‘shill’, and is no different from the phrase I’ve heard dozens of times: “even conservative George Will (or Newt Gingrich, or Charles Krauthammer) admits…” None of whom are conservative, but all of whom are current or former Council members.
    Silberman isn’t wrong to say that “nothing in the definition [of ‘regulate’] appears to limit that power only to those already active in relation to an interstate market.” Yeah, obviously. But the definition of ‘interstate commerce’ just as obviously would! For Silberman to write such an opinion indicates either a lack of reason, or a big government, anti-liberty agenda. Given his associations, it’s not hard to determine which of the two is in play here. But what’s Jon’s excuse?

  • February 26, 2012 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Dave – Next you’re going to say that George W. Bush was not a conservative. Right?

  • San Antonio Bankruptcy Attorneys
    October 16, 2013 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

    So I use lead weights when I go fishing – will I be arrested if I try and teach my grandson how to fish if there are lead weights on my boat? Will I be charged with a misdemeanor, felony or is it straight to jail?

    • October 19, 2013 - 6:53 am | Permalink

      Only if you force him to eat them.

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