House votes, again, to delay enforcement of traditional light bulb ban

Last night, the House approved of two amendments that will further stay the enforcement of the infamously intrusive incandescent light-bulb ban.

In a voice vote, the House approved an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 that would prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce a 2007 law that sets bulb efficiency standards. The law bans the sale of 100 watt incandescent bulbs and will ban the sale of 75 watt traditional bulbs in July 2013.

This year, like last year, the amendment was sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who said the federal government should not be in the business of requiring certain light bulbs to be used.

“We shouldn’t be making these decisions for the American people,” Burgess said on the House floor. Burgess added that his amendment was approved last year and signed into law by President Obama, after which the House quickly passed his amendment again.

I like that the House Republicans are sticking with the regulatory travesty that is the incandescent light bulb ban, the only problem being that just delaying enforcement of the ban, instead of actually repealing it, only creates more uncertainty for businesses. It’s the best they can do with the state of the legislative branch being what it is at the moment, but manufacturers have already started battening down the hatches in preparation of the ban and moving away from production of normal light bulbs. A mere short-term guarantee just isn’t going to do much for them. Bloomberg has more:

Even if the House language approved last night survives in the Democratic-led Senate, the impact for consumers probably will be limited because manufacturers such as Royal Philips Electronics NV (PHIA) and General Electric Co. (GE) (GE) have revamped manufacturing to comply with the law, making bulbs that use less electricity to generate the same amount of light. …

“The law couldn’t be enforced,” Burgess said of his amendment in an interview. “‘We don’t need no stinkin’ badges. We’re the energy police.’”

Blocking the Energy Department from enforcement might let unscrupulous foreign manufacturers push non-compliant products, including to bulk buyers such as builders. Those sales are difficult to track.

“Some in Congress are willing to put U.S. jobs at risk for political positioning,” said Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a Rosslyn, Virginia-based group. “This is an example of a few politicizing light bulbs at the risk of American workers and the economy.”

Democrats are trying to spin this as if Republicans are ignoring the effect on American jobs. They contend that the delay will allow Americans to purchase traditional light bulbs from foreign manufacturers instead of the American manufacturers who make the new energy efficient light bulbs, but let’s just knock that notion on the head right now.

Buying American, just for the sake of buying American, does not help to create jobs — free trade and buying goods from wherever they are produced most cheaply and efficiently leads to good-for-all economic growth that creates actual, productive jobs. If Democrats really cared for American jobs and the health of the overall economy, maybe they should stop sticking up for a law that forces people to buy certain goods that they wouldn’t be choosing to buy in the free market. (Really, now — “unscrupulous” foreign manufacturers? They’re just meeting an existing demand, for crying out loud.)

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