Friday, August 12, 2011

CPSIA - That's all, Folks!

Sadly, after four years of CPSIA advocacy, it’s finally time to say farewell. The timing of my goodbye comes as we approach the third anniversary of President Bush signing the CPSIA into law (August 14, 2008). I am paroling myself for time served. This is my final blogpost.

This exhausting journey came to a crashing end because I concluded that I am not able to engineer further relief from this terrible law. Congress, having finally passed a CPSIA amendment (HR 2715) after three frustrating years of our begging for help, is finished with this issue for good. They put an end to the lingering issues by cutting loose all the politically sensitive groups affected by the CPSIA (ATVs, bikes, books, resale goods). Those of us with working memories will recall the many words spoken over the last three years about the lead "dangers" presented by these goods to justify their inclusion in the law in the first place. I guess Congress decided lead risks wear off for certain kinds of products. Interesting . . . .

The remaining affected industries will not receive additional relief from Congress because any significant political pressure which might drive change has been neutralized. This was a Democratic strategy to make this issue go away (divide-and-conquer), and it worked. I believe the CPSIA will not be amended in the next two years in any way and may not be amended in a meaningful way again for many, many years. Read HR 2715 – that’s all you are likely to get from Congress.

I have no realistic expectation of further relief from the CPSC, either. The three Democratic votes on the Commission can’t be beaten, and as I have shown in this space, they always vote as a pack with no meaningful exceptions. One "triple vote" will always beat two votes. These Dems have selective hearing or memory or just don’t give a darn about data or testimony that doesn’t validate their conclusions. The outcome of a CPSC hearing, Commission meeting or request for public comment on a CPSIA issue is about as much in doubt as the average Moscow show trial. [It just takes a little longer. . . .]

The comparison to Stalin's show trials is apt. In the 1930's, the Soviets cynically used legal proceedings to lend the appearance of legitimacy to its "findings of fact" (generally based on coerced confessions) and its rendering of "justice". Of course, the trials were just a sham, nothing more than an administrative procedure for implementing a political agenda. And at the CPSC? I cannot point to a single CPSIA issue on which the Democrats showed an open mind or were capable of being influenced by data or reason. Draw your own conclusions, notwithstanding Bob Adler's self-proclaimed "agony" in always casting his votes against businesses. After naively testifying at, contributing to or analyzing and reporting on so many CPSC proceedings that I have lost count, I have totally given up on these people and consider influencing them a lost cause. It’s not worth my time to continue to attempt to work with them.

So with no hope of further legislative relief for the foreseeable future and with closed minds and closed doors at the CPSC, this is not a worthwhile venture for me anymore. I cannot justify it and plan to turn my attention to other opportunities with greater promise of my adding value. I am done with the CPSIA and the CPSC.

Despite the almost overwhelming urge to “sum it all up”, I don’t intend to offer any concluding wisdom. Already prone to repeat myself endlessly in this space, I have clearly stated my position on the issues and my opinions haven’t changed. You know how I feel with specificity. Given that I believe it’s all over but the tears, I can’t see what good would come from parting words on the “war”.

Kind readers, you have become my friends and family. I really value your readership and your support. This blog reflects your pain and your passion, too. We have fed off each other. I want to thank you. You have sustained me.

For those of you who read this blog just to see what I would say about you and who will not miss my little missives (or me), I can only say that I have been completely honest and candid in this space, working with facts and real data, consistently documenting my source materials and my analysis. I respect that you may disagree with my conclusions or opinions, but I don’t respect that you refused to take me on. For all your whining and grousing about me, generally behind closed doors, none of you ever stood up in this space to tell me where or how I was wrong. You apparently lacked the courage to engage in a true, open debate where the outcome was not predetermined in your favor. Perhaps you preferred to ignore me, my arguments and my data, hoping I would go away. In the end, you got your wish. Lucky us.

So the battle ends for me, here. Perhaps someday we will see the return of common sense and respect for corporate members of our society in our safety laws. Until then, good luck to you and Godspeed.


CPSIA - Obama Will Sign HR 2715 CPSIA Amendment Into Law Today

President Obama is expected to sign HR 2715, the CPSIA amendment that picks winners and losers and represents the end of legislative action to repair the misconceived CPSIA. Obama has to clear his desk before his vacation next week. This will be one of his last "to do's" before R&R begins.

Now what?

Here is my prediction:

a. The push will be on for the end of CPSIA rulemaking. Not only are the Dems on the CPSC Commission tired of this (times ten) but Congress wants this off their plate, too. Our petty concerns have been "addressed" and besides, what could go wrong anyway? Um, well, consider this "colloquy" between three powerful Democrats in the Senate. Before you read on, please note:

- HR 2715 is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by both parties (obviously). This dialogue is among three like-minded Democrats. Why isn't it a colloquy between both parties? Is this even relevant? As you will see, that depends on where you sit.
- The three Senators involved have always agreed with each other on this law and have been remarkably resistant to any data, reasoning or argument that opposes their preconceived notions about the CPSIA or its groundings. Should their time-warp views be accorded any relevance?
- Inez Tenenbaum has already cited this "colloquy" as her Congressional "instructions". Dem to Dem. Storm clouds gathering?

I have no idea if this dialogue actually took place or is just a figment published to justify the Dem agenda. Not even an interesting question to resolve, frankly.


"Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I rise to engage in a colloquy with my colleagues, Senators Durbin and Pryor, over the passage of H.R. 2715, a bill that passed on the House suspension calendar by a vote of 421-2 and the Senate by unanimous consent. Due to the fact that this bill bypassed regular order and failed to receive consideration in the Commerce Committee, I believe it is important to explain our intent in passing this bill."

Mr. DURBIN. I am frustrated that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has taken too long to promulgate rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, CPSIA, including the rules on third-party testing obligations and the component part testing rule. I did not oppose H.R. 2715, because it does not delay or impede the Commission's ability to implement those rules--although it may place some increased costs on the Commission due to actions required as a result of new CPSC mandates and authorities--and I urge the Commission to complete its work expeditiously.

Mr. ROCKEFELLER. I share the Senator's concerns about the CPSC's delay in promulgating its regulations in accordance with the mandates of CPSIA. While I sympathize with the CPSC over its resource constraints, the Commission must accelerate its efforts and complete the important regulations required under CPSIA. The provisions in section 2 of H.R. 2715 were not intended to delay or stop the Commission's current rulemaking under section 102 (d)(2) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to implement the critical provision related to the third-party testing of children's products. I fully expect the Commission to go forward with these important rulemakings with no disruption from the passage of this bill.

Given the limited resources of the Commission and recognizing the length of time it has taken to implement the provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, it is intended that most of H.R. 2715's new mandates on the CPSC are not rulemakings. Some of the new authority, such as the functional purpose exemption and the authority to restrict the scope of the used products exemption, are subject to a notice and hearing requirement, but not to a rulemaking. Others, such as the creation of a new public registry for small batch manufacturers, can be implemented without notice and comment or even a hearing. As such, the Commission should act to effectuate the new mandates of this bill in a most expeditious manner.

Mr. PRYOR. I also share the Senator's view that nothing in H.R. 2715 is intended to delay the Commission's rulemaking with respect to third party testing and believe that Commission should conclude its testing rulemakings in the next 2 months. I supported H.R. 2715 because it made minor modifications to an important consumer product safety law and supported implementation of important aspect of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act such as the consumer product database. This bill will require the CPSC to extend the deadline for posting reports on defective products by 5 days if a business asserts that the information in the report is not accurate. However, this change does not alter the fact that the Commission still must post the report in the database after those 5 days even if it is still reviewing the merits of the complaint.

So now you know what is going to happen. Tenenbaum is practically broadcasting it. She has received her "instructions". They've heard enough.

b. With Thomas Moore's run at the CPSC ending once and for all in October, and with consumer groups already publicly calling for his replacement ASAP, the Dems will be very anxious to complete as much work as possible before he goes. His replacement's confirmation through the Senate is not a sure thing at all. Even a recess appointment is not as much an option as in the past (the Senate is running a "pro forma" session right now to head off this step by the President). If Moore is not replaced on a timely basis, the Commission will shrink to just four people which means that Tenenbaum and Adler might actually have to listen to their Republican counterparts and seek COMPROMISE to get things done. Don't hold your breath - they'd prefer to get it done their way. Expect the worst from the next three months.

c. 2012 will be the year of enforcement. In 2012, you will get to find out how well I can predict the future. 2012 won't be fun for some people, maybe lots of people. Nothing good will be achieved from a safety standpoint but the CPSC will get to strut its stuff. [Does it strike you as ironic that Ms. Tenenbaum brags about falling recall rates under her reign? Is or isn't this the exact reason that Congress got so mad at Nancy Nord? I guess when Dems are in charge, falling recall rates are a good sign. When Republicans are in charge, it's so so bad,]

Get ready for some tough times.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CPSIA - Hey, Republicans, THANKS SO MUCH for that Pledge for America

Did anyone notice how the CPSIA Amendment (HR 2715) went to the House floor in the middle of the night on a Sunday after closed door horse trading out of the public eye, and was voted on early the next day designated as a "noncontroversial bill" (Monday, August 1).  The amendment didn't go through a mark-up hearing and was only published a few hours before the vote.  The law includes some surprises, too, as one might expect on a bill emerging from a smoke-filled room.  Naturally, the Senate considered it and put it up for a voice vote in even less time. 

How many Members of Congress bothered to read the bill before voting on it?  How many Members of the responsible House and Senate committees read it before voting on it?  Your guess is as good as mine.

You may recall that the Republican Party published "A Pledge to America" in 2010 ahead of the Medterm elections, with the nifty subtitle "A new governing agenda built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand for & America's Founding Values".  Impressive. The Pledge includes a section starting on page 33 called "A Plan to Reform Congress and Restore Trust".  Restore trust - I am all for that!!

On page 35 of this document, the Republicans make the following "promise":

"Read the Bill   We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on."  [Emphasis added]

Correction:  They'll do all that stuff unless they don't.  And in the case of the CPSIA Amendment, well, come on, don't be such a rule follower . . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CPSIA - Final CPSIA Amendment (HR 2715) Moves to President's Desk for Signature

Here is the final form of the CPSIA Amendment  (HR 2715) that should become law sometime this week.

I want to quote from another blog (thank you, Steven Hansen) on this amendment's path to the President's desk:

"This bill and the path it has taken is an example of why people are very frustrated with Congress and getting legislation passed in general. These 'legislative' fixes have been getting passed around in backrooms for months and when they finally did come to a 'vote' the 'fix' was already in and they sailed thru in minutes or seconds on votes that were purely formalities. There was really no warning that this would be passed when it did or in this fashion. If you did not get what you wanted in here well that's too bad because you are not likely to see any further relief for some time. Apparently Congress is going to be in recess until after Labor day as they had to work so hard to pass the debt ceiling bill."

Mr. Hansen is completely correct.  We know that even Republican members found out about this amendment when it was docketed for a House floor vote.  Mark-up, schmark-up.  The Senate also made the decision (if that is even possible, since the Senate is an inanimate organization without a mind) to shift to HR 2715 without debate, and passed it with a voice vote.  These decisions were literally made in minutes behind closed doors and Members of Congress had no time to read (and perhaps no interest to read) the "noncontroversial" bill.  After three years of intense bickering, a small group of individuals made the decision for all of us that this bill is good enough to "fix" the CPSIA.  There won't be another "fix" to this law again, perhaps EVER.  You know the bill sucks if Henry Waxman is clucking about it.  In fact, most of the text of the bill was his handiwork almost entirely (functional purpose, testing "relief" (Eshoo), database (Markey), small batch "relief").

And what did we get for all our good government dollars?  I have previously given my quick assessment of this law and have no interest in repeating the exercise at this point.  I would like, however, to highlight low lights of the bill:

Winners:   ATVs, Bicycles, Resale Goods, Books, Libraries

Losers:  See above list, and if you're not on it . . . you.

Technical Fixes of Past Congressional Screw-ups
  • 100 ppm lead standard is prospective now.  And WHY wasn't Congress able to do this for 300 ppm or 600 ppm?  Good question.  The five CPSC Commissioners called for this particular change back in January 2010.  What's the hurry now???
  • Changes to testing requirement to "representative" rather than "random" samples.  And we just hired our third statistician, too!
  • Restricts the phthalates ban to accessible plasticized components.  i guess Congress isn't worried about kids with serpent tongues any longer.
  • Makes FUTURE crib standards prospective.  And who said the $32 million in recently discarded good fixed-sided crib inventory died in vain?!
Shame, Shame, Shame:

Small batch manufacturers, the most micro of businesses (under $1 million in total turnover) must register prior to utilizing any of the nifty cost-saving testing innovations now being cooked up by the very open-minded CPSC.  This is the CPSC's version of the sex offender registry.  Is there ANY basis for singling these people out for special attention?  Why doesn't Mattel have to register, too?  Oh, come on, you know we must have different rules for Mattel!  They need their own firewalled labs and so on for their efficiency.  [Here's a good example of their efficiency.]  It's only fair, the real safety worry is the crafters . . . .

The only good news is that none of the small batch manufacturers will ever have to suffer this indignity. The clever gnomes of Congress have figured out how to appear to give something to those heart-rending  little nobodies without doing squat.  How do they do that?  The only "relief" that the CPSC may implement must meet this standard:  "Any such alternative requirements shall provide for reasonable methods to assure compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation." [Emphasis added]  This CPSIA term has already been interpreted by this Commission multiple times.  The word "assure" ensures that no relief will ever be given since nothing can "assure" compliance other than prophylaxis.  Notably, the Commission has purportedly looked for this "out" for three years and came up with nada.  And Bob Adler has been "agonizing" over it for that entire time.  [I feel AWFUL for him, he suffers for each of us.] How will another year or two of agonizing produce a different result?

Suckers are welcome to wait longingly for this promised "relief" but they will be disappointed again and again.  Protest is futile.

Disgusting, Repellent Hypocrisy:

Consider the amazing gimme provided to bicycle manufacturers:

"(B) METAL COMPONENT PARTS OF BICYCLES.—The third party testing requirements established under subsection (a) shall not apply to metal component parts of bicycles with respect to compliance with the lead content limits in place pursuant to section 101(b)(6) of the [CPSIA]."

They don't have to test their metal components at all.  AT ALL, EVER.  Bicycle manufacturers are different than you and me.

Let me be clear - I think testing metal components on bikes is a stupid and pointless waste of time and money.  The bike industry testified in the CPSC 100 ppm hearing that when they tested a single part in ten places, they got ten different results.  Whoa!  They proved they had an unsolvable problem and apparently Congress listened.  How heartwarming!

I gave similar testimony and submitted similar data about our products at the same hearing in the same panel sitting at the same table.  Congress must have gone deaf by that time.  Oddly, the CPSC staff included this data and my testimony in their 100 ppm report.  So perhaps Congress isn't just deaf, they may be blind, too.  Or perhaps they just don't bother with the details.

Inquiring minds want to know about this particular term benefiting bicycle manufacturers:

1.   The AAP testified that there is a real risk that kids might lick their bicycles.  Problem?  Apparently not, but the testimony was taken morbidly seriously at the time.  I wonder why Congress wants to protect bike lickers now.

2.   Perhaps you recall that the CPSC rejected the request of Learning Curve to exempt its brass bushings on toy car wheels.  This decision was a "major victory" for safety because, get ready for it, there was lead in the brass bushings although Bob Adler noted there was no danger even to a child at the "tipping point" in lead exposure.  [Adler voted to reject LC's petition nevertheless. He "had" to, the law left him no choice.]  Later the Consumers Union warned against playing brass instruments in a band because of the dreaded lead in brass.   [Degchi (Curry cookware) is one of many traditional Indian cooking utensils and pots made of brass.  Where are all the Indian victims from generations of eating off brass?]  The CPSC also held the line against bikes, pens and ATVs over the purported lead content of their metal components because the Dems asserted that there is no safe level of lead.  Is Congress signalling that metal components are uniquely safe in bicycles?  How did Congress figure this out?  Is there something in the Congressional record on this point?

The term about testing metal bicycle components first appeared in this bill when it went to the House floor on suspension.  Bills on suspension cannot be amended.  Hmmm.

3.   I recall Rachel Weintraub intoning during testimony at the CPSC and in Congress that consumers expect their products to be tested before sale.  [Former Commissioner David Pittle told the same tale at a CPSC hearing.]  Bicycles won't be tested before sale now.  How will consumers be able to sleep peacefully?  How will they know which items are not tested (ATVs, books, bikes, resale goods of all types) and which are tested?  Won't they have the same uncertainty again?  I can feel the fabric of our society tearing a little bit . . . .

4.   Bicycle manufacturers have indicated that tests of metal components vary depending on where you test the component.  There is unpredictable variability in their test results because . . . metal components are not precisely homogeneous.  Metals are used in components in many children's products, not just bikes.  It follows that all metal components pose the same issue.  It also follows that metals pose an equal risk of lead poisoning regardless of the product they are used in.  So why must we test our grommets and staples when bikes can tool around untested?

5.   Is there a reason why OTHER components on a bicycle (presumably made of plastic and vinyl) must be tested?  Is there a known health hazard there that bike companies must protect against?  Will those tests achieve anything for anyone?  And why must every other product category still subject to the CPSIA test every component, whether metal or plastic?

6.   The CPSC has held that it is "technologically feasible" to make every component of every children's product compliant to the 100 ppm standard.  There were no exceptions to their conclusion.  Why did Congress in its infinite wisdom decide that bicycles alone could be forgiven the need to meet this standard and alone to not have to test its metal components?  [The other problem child under this provision, ATVs and motocross, was written out ENTIRELY.]  Why weren't bikes made to comply with the astute judgment of the CPSC and shift over to new materials to meet the "toughest lead standard in the world"?  After all, that only costs money, and Bob Adler assured us that the cost would be minor and worth it.  Can't be too safe and, of course, we all know that safety delayed is safety denied.  Isn't this action of our all-knowing Congress denying safety?

As I have noted, this law picks winners and losers.  Applying reason and rationality to this arbitrary allocation of spoils is a pathetic waste of time at this point.  Congress has decided what's best for all of us, and with the Tenenbaum gang in charge at the CPSC, you shouldn't spend much time hoping things are going to change in the future. Henry Waxman and Rachel Weintraub won.

CPSIA - A Comment Not to be Missed

From Anonymous:

"I have to say, as a lifelong Democrat, this whole CPSIA thing makes me feel incredibly powerful!

You have to admit that to be able to, during a deep recession, force the American people to pay the immense administration costs of the CPSC due to the CPSIA, while burying business in mountains of red tape and testing expense, and to do so while EXPLICITLY STATING that they have no obligation to show efficacy and in the face of a huge body of evidence that the CPSIA will accomplish little in terms of real safety is...Powerful!

As a registered Democrat I practically feel I am becoming one with the force. You Republicans can join the force too. All you have to do is close your mind, admit that evidence (when it contradicts your cherished gut feelings) is overrated, and join the Democratic Party. Then you too can blatantly screw the American people."

Monday, August 1, 2011

CPSIA - As Predicted, the Senate Adopted House Bipartisan Bill Amending CPSIA

After three years of warring, Congress has finally passed an amendment to the CPSIA.  HR 2715 was approved by the Senate this evening by voice vote.

This is expected to be the last legislative relief (thusfar the only legislative) relief from the CPSIA. 

CPSIA - The Senate Moves In the Direction of the House Bill

Confidential discussions are underway for Senate Democrats to accept the House bill amending the CPSIA which passed today 421-2.  The pressure being applied relates to the consequences on U.S. retailers from the retroactive application of the 100 ppm lead standard. If the House bill is accepted by the Senate Dems, it will no doubt be hotlined for quick passage by voice vote, and then this ugly process will be over. With the pending exclusion under the bill of ATV's, bikes and books (the chosen winners, including the remarkable free pass on metal component testing by bicycle manufacturers), the rest of us (the chosen losers) will remain under the thumb of both the CPSIA and the Dem-controlled CPSC.  I would note that we, the chosen losers, are no doubt the people Inez Tenenbaum refers to as "certain cynical special interests".  If you disagree with her agenda, you must be a "cynical special interest", it seems to me.  Thanks to Jan Schakowsky for this nifty idea!

I was asked earlier today if I supported the House bill (which subsequently passed 421-2).  I replied that the bill is good for us, but not good enough.  It does not address the big issues imperiling companies like ours, and furthermore, incorporates ineffective provisions on several fronts which are only there to bolster Dem chances for reelection.  That said, I advised supporting the bill because frankly what choice did we have anyway?  The impact of this bill, I noted, is like being offered a better cell in jail.  You gotta take it, if only for the view.

But you're still in jail all the same.

CPSIA - No Surprise - Bipartisan House Bill Passes 421-2.

CPSIA - I am Appearing on Fox Business Today

I am going to be interviewed by Fox Business today from our offices several times.  The anticipated times (CST) are 11:50 AM, 12:15 PM (viewable on, 12:47 PM (teaser), 12:53 PM and 3:55 PM-ish.  As noted, times are subject to change.  The 12:15 PM interview can be seen online.

CPSIA - The Futility of Protesting the CPSIA

With Congress about to sign-off on a CPSIA Amendment which seals the fate of the regulated community, for better or worse depending on who you are, the question of what remains is quite relevant.  With rights allocated and responsibilities delegated to a Dem-controlled CPSC Commission, what kind of justice can we expect in the future???

As if to answer this question, last week CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum published a troubling Op-Ed dated July 28th ("CPSC Chief to Detractors: ‘Safety Delayed is Safety Denied’").  In her article, Ms. Tenenbaum asserted that Democrats on the CPSC Commission are responsible for many "major victories" over the resistance of the minority party Republicans:

"We have made great progress at CPSC, and at times, our achievements have come with support from the two Commissioners in the minority party. Though, consumers should know that vigorous resistance is the rule, rather than the exception, with these two Commissioners. Through a coordinated campaign, these Commissioners have sought to delay and distort our actions in an attempt to circumvent the will of American families and Congress. Their tactics have been unsuccessful, as demonstrated by the strength of the new safety measures we have established."

Democrats good, Republicans evil. . . .  She continues, openly accusing minority Commissioners of almost venally favoring pocketbook issues over safety:

"We faced another example of this obstructionism in our effort to make sure cribs are safe. From November 2007 to April 2010, there were 36 deaths associated with crib structural defects. To address this critical issue, the Commission voted unanimously last December to establish new crib safety rules. Sadly, two of my colleagues in the minority party then attempted to delay the rules from going into effect last month. They were for it, and then they were against it, all in an effort to put the interests of a few retailers over the interests of hundreds of thousands of parents and very young children."

Perhaps granting me an honorable mention as an irritant, Ms. T. goes on to lay claim to the higher moral ground.  As you know, this is all about the tug of war between good-and-evil . . . .

"It is ironic that the minority party Commissioners and certain cynical special interests continue to gesture wildly, alleging a failure to take the concerns of businesses into account, while many safety-conscious companies have been manufacturing, testing, and selling children’s products for nearly three years that meet and exceed the requirements set by Congress. The minority party’s approach does not solve problems and does not serve the public interest. The Consumer Product Safety Commission under my stewardship will not succumb to efforts to undermine this law. Like justice, safety delayed is safety denied." [Emphasis added]

[I can't let Ms. T get away with the "safety delayed is safety denied" baloney.  To accept her rationale, one must conclude that safety was at stake in the cited decisions.  Among her claims of "major victories" is the determination that 100 ppm is technologically feasible.  Her own staff indicated that this decision will have "minimal" impact on safety.  And the safety achieved by the decision?  No reply.  She also points to the new phthalates standard.  Her own agency has TWICE considered these same chemicals for safety risks and TWICE given them a clean bill of health.  Isn't it a stretch to call her new standards a "major victory" for consumers or to contend that safety was ever at stake?  Not if data is irrelevant to you.  As is to ensure her own blissful ignorance (and to avoid learning anything inconsistent with her political agenda), Ms. Tenenbaum has never asked for injury statistics to evaluate evidence of the utility of the new rules she KNOWS will choke business.  Why not?  Who wants to spoil a good thing?  Safety delayed is safety denied . . . .  "Safety" perhaps defined in terms of job security.]

Commissioners Nord and Northup replied to Tenenbaum's Op-Ed snarkiness, and you should read their replies. However, I think the real issue is how this Commission will handle its responsibilities once Congress bows out.  Congress is about to let the Commission take it from here.  Now what?

The Tenenbaum article raises a question in my mind.  Does Commission voting records give any insight into the Dems' willingness to listen or their interest in listening to contrary viewpoints?  Is it all so open-and-shut?  Do we even have a fighting chance with these people, given their moral self-justifications?  Commission voting statistics have never been analyzed publicly to my knowledge, so I put them together this afternoon. Please feel free to check my work - here are the Tenenbaum era CPSIA votes.

My tabulation excludes procedural votes and votes related to cribs and infant care, the phthalates CHAP and Pool safety. In other words, it is only those votes which relate to my advocacy on the core issues under the CPSIA. Notably, I am unable to access confidential votes - the spreadsheet only applies to votes cast in open sessions of the Commission.

There have been 46 votes since her confirmation, and 37 since she began to chair the meetings. Each and every decision of the Commission has been controlled by the Democrats. Each and every vote won by Democrats had all Dem Commissions in tow with two exceptions - the two stays objected to by Adler, an avowed stay-hater.  Every 3-2 vote was three Dems to two Republicans.  No doubt each vote was configured for Ms. Tenenbaum's consent - she has never voted against a proposed rule or ruling.

Think about that - all the Dems voted together on everything, except two dissents by one Commissioner on the same issue, the extension of a stay, and in those cases he wanted to be even less forgiving of reasonable business interests. For perspective on this, consider that this is the Commissioner who claims to "agonize" over every vote but always votes against even the mildest form of relief for business. He is also the one who stated that he wouldn't allow cost-benefit analysis to be performed "over my dead body".  He only veered away from his fellow Dems on two votes on stays.  What does that tell you?

After three years of advocacy and the considerable expenditure of cash, time and other resources by so many people affected by this law, it seems apparent from the voting data that nothing we ever said or any data we ever presented were in any way persuasive to the Dems. They were gracious in their expressions of gratitude for our participation in their processes, but given the outcomes, one must conclude that we simply enabled them to give the appearance of justice. After all, we got our day in court, or so they would have you believe. However, if anyone who comes before a particular judge is sentenced to death, one begins to wonder about justice after awhile.

The Dems have used slogans to justify their actions:

- "There's no safe level of lead."
- "Safety delayed is safety denied."
- "Over my dead body . . . ."

Is there a pattern in these slogans?

They are sanctimonious. They wreak of moral superiority, while at the same time pinning their work on other people. Ms. T. tells us that they were just carrying out the will of Congress.  Nevertheless, she would have you believe that their work is necessary and a triumph for you.

They are self-righteous. There's something smug about their contentions. They will block cost-benefit analysis with their dead bodies. They portray themselves as courageous heroes, opposing devious foes. Taking a page out of the estimable Jan Schakowsky's playbook, Tenenbaum labels those who oppose her as "certain cynical special interests". Conspiracy theories bulk up her slender reed of self-justification.

The slogans play to emotions and ignore legal precedent and data. Bob Adler's "How do you measure the life of a little baby?" is a great example. Bob Adler is a lawyer and knows full well that the law provides a solid and respected answer to this question. As one practitioner told me, this kind of assessment is done every day in our courts and by other agencies. Adler knows that brains short out when he mentions "little babies" and who can argue that anything is worth more than the life of a "little baby".  By invoking images of "little babies", Adler and Co. divert attention from incoherent rationales underlying their decisions.

[To save a "little baby", is it okay to eliminate one job? Ten jobs? 100 jobs? 1,000 jobs? 10,000 jobs? 100,000 jobs? 1,000,000 jobs? Where do we draw the line? The implication, if you listen to Mr. Adler (not that he ever listens to me), is that the value of a baby's life is infinite so no economic sacrifice is too great. He won't allow a cost-benefit analysis to be done, despite the fact that it is mandated by an Executive Order and is good law to boot, so the question will never answered.  But isn't it clear - the line must be drawn somewhere. We can't function as a society if it isn't.  Don't expect this kind of thinking as kong as Adler and Tenenbaum hold down the fort at the CPSC, however.]

The slogans are cynical, too. Tenenbaum's repeated request (four times by my count) in the hearing on 100 ppm that businesses are welcome, even encouraged, to file for exemptions from the technological feasibility decision is despicable and cynical. Cynical in a sincere voice and with a smile on your face is cynical all the same. The CPSC staff wrote up a 59-page analysis stating that EVERYTHING is technologically feasible.  She knows this.  Her encouragement can't and won't lead to exceptions - The CPSC staff have already "tied her hands".    Still, she persists.  Consider Ms. Tenenbaum's advice in her statement on the 100 ppm standard:

"Although the Commission already has voted on this issue today, if a manufacturer were to discover that it is not technologically feasible to manufacture a children’s product or category of children’s products, the agency always will consider a request for a technological feasibility determination through our normal petitioning process. During my tenure, the Commission has docketed and either has resolved or is considering several petitions requesting action on various issues. The criteria for any petition on the technological feasibility of achieving the .01 percent lead limit are laid out clearly by the statute and further explained in the staff briefing package. The process for writing a petition also is clearly set forth in the agency’s regulations. I encourage any business that discovers it manufactures a children’s product or category of children’s products for which it is not technologically feasible to meet the .01 percent limit to come to us with enough specific data to enable our staff to recommend that the Commission make a finding concerning technological feasibility under section 101(d) of the CPSIA. Our door always will be open to considering future requests. As always, for small businesses that may require additional guidance, our small business ombudsman stands ready to work to work with you on any of your concerns. I realize that this process has presented a challenge for manufacturers, and I commend those in industry who have worked so diligently to bring the lead levels in their products below .01 percent." [Emphasis added]

Makes me want to vomit. This is your government talking.  Or perhaps lying?

So as Congress closes the door on helping us, doling out relief to favored groups like ATVs and books, they left the rest of us to fend for ourselves. The issue of how any of this related to safety was never considered in the pending amendments. Congress also chose not to address the abuses of the panel of hanging judges at the helm of the CPSC. The result is painful and a reminder that fighting City Hall is pointless. In this case, the Dems in charge have proven they are beyond reach and will not listen. Further resistance seems futile.