Assuming the medical costs and costs of the modifications to the saws are any where near correct, I there are not significant operational limitations introduced which I have not seen in this discussion and this I will assume are not a real problem, this is economically a no-brainer. This regulation will save the nation far more than it costs.
Making it a choice of the buyer would be fine if the buyer had the information available at the time of purchase that he could pay an extra $100 now for a safer saw, or pay $2000 later for medical care. This is not the choice that the buyer is making, however, because he will not be the one paying the medical costs as most likely it will be covered by insurance and the cost will be born by many people. Additionally, the buyer assumes that he knows better, whether he is a professional with 50 years experience as some who have commented on this discussion or a weekend warrior who is buying his first saw.
Better education would likely significantly reduce the accidents but it is all available now. Every saw comes with an owner's manual, much of it devoted to safety. There are probably thousands of table saw safety video's on youtube. This hasn't solved the problem. I guess the government could create a table saw safety program. You could take a class in table saw safety, pass a test, and receive a license before you could buy or use a table saw, but I am sure that everyone who objects to the proposed safety regulations would really object to being required to take a $100 course and a $25 licence every 5 years.
The medical costs are just part of the costs involved with these accidents. There is a significant productivity cost. If it is a job site accident, probably the entire crew accomplishes almost nothing for the rest of the day. The crew operates one member short until a replacement is found. The injured person is either covered with worker's comp or looses income. The injured person may well come back to work before they are back to 100%, again costing productivity. They may never return to 100% if they loose a couple of fingers. The weekend warrior spreads the costs to his employer who has never had him use a table saw with sick time and trying to type on his computer with eight fingers.
As I see it, this regulation greatly reduces the overall costs and places those costs with those who create it, the table saw users. This is also how regulation should be done, with a cost/benefit analysis that shows that it is beneficial.
I use corrugated cardboard. It takes a little more effort to push the screws in but I don't have to worry about it tearing and no assembly required.
For all those who want to zoom in on the picture, in Firefox, you can go to "zoom" in the view menu and select "zoom in" or press "ctrl" and "+". Repeat until the image is big enough. Other browsers probably have similar functions.
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