Eureka! Congress blocks the incandescent light bulb ban

posted at 4:05 pm on December 16, 2011 by Tina Korbe

No sooner did my mom clear the supermarket shelves of incandescent light bulbs than the light bulbs finally went on in congressional negotiators’ heads. The Washington Times reports:

Congressional negotiators struck a deal Thursday that overturns the new rules that were to have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning next year.

That agreement is tucked inside the massive 1,200-page spending bill that funds the government through the rest of this fiscal year, and which both houses of Congress will vote on Friday. Mr. Obama is expected to sign the bill, which heads off a looming government shutdown.

Congressional Republicans dropped almost all of the policy restrictions they tried to attach to the bill, but won inclusion of the light bulb provision, which prevents the Obama administration from carrying through a 2007 law that would have set energy efficiency standards that effectively made the traditional light bulb obsolete.

Stopping the bulb ban was a chief GOP priority coming into this year, with all of the candidates seeking to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee saying they would push through a repeal. That bill cleared the House but Democrats blocked its consideration in the Senate.

Good riddance. From the very beginning, the light bulb ban represented a vapid incomprehension of the worth and wonder of creative destruction, a driveling distrust of the innovation of entrepreneurs and an ambitious overreach into individual lives — so much so that it became highly representative and symbolic of the excesses of government. Ironic, too, that it was a ban that applied to one of the most ingenious inventions ever to come out of the United States — an invention, no less, that reinforces the importance and power of persistence for schoolchildren the world over.

What was it Edison said again? “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Unlike the government, Edison learned from the ways that didn’t work. Would that our governmental leaders would cease to insanely attempt the same, tired solutions, too. Tax the rich! Regulate industry! Engineer reelection!

Before I glow too much about this, though, let me add: The rider doesn’t actually repeal the ban; it just prevents the administration from spending any money to enforce the new light bulb standards. Still, at least we got something out of an 11th-hour spending deal that otherwise came up short.


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