August 1, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, CPSIA Updates, Featured Articles
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 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.
CPSIA – The Futility of Protesting the CPSIA
June 6, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, CPSIA Updates, Featured Articles
Having delayed the mark-up of the CPSIA Amendment bill (ECADA), the House is out of session for the next week. The timing for resumption of the consideration of this bill has not been released. I think it is incumbent on us to make a fuss over this delay and to press our Congressional representatives to act to pass this law. Other industry groups are pushing for the meager and surgical relief offered by this law – but the Dems continue to resist. The Dems moan and groan as though ECADA guts the CPSIA, perhaps banking on a docile media to not challenge their characterization of a very balanced and frankly, rather undramatic bill. In fact, I was just interviewed by a reporter whose opening question was why the controversy over a bill that changes so little about the CPSIA. Good question. I have an explanation to offer you – it’s just politics, pure and simple, 100% politics. As previously noted, the Republicans were sensitive to the excesses of the law before it was passed. Given that the CPSIA was passed in August 2008, as America headed to the polls en masse to overwhelmingly elect Mr. Obama as our President, all members of Congress (other than Rand Paul and three others) saw the wisdom of supporting this bill. The political cost of opposition to the CPSIA was unbearable – as my own representative told me face-to-face in July 2008, even though the CPSIA was over-the-top, he had to vote for it, otherwise he would face election commercials accusing him of defending corporations over children’s safety. He would not sacrifice his job over this vote. He assured me that Congress usually goes too far in its bills, but would go back in 12-to-18 months to fix it. Not in this case, apparently. So the Republicans, like the Democrats, preferred the safe route politically in the summer of 2008, but by all appearances, wanted to go back and fix the bill as predicted by my district’s representative. To their credit, the Republicans have used the majority power in the House restored in the 2010 midterm elections to reach out to both sides on this issue, as well as to the Dems, to find appropriate middle ground on this contentious issue. [I have discussed these efforts in this space over the course of 2011.] The new General Counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gib Mullan, is the ex-General Counsel and ex-Director of Compliance and Field Operations at the CPSC, so let’s posit that he understands the law pretty well from all angles. Even with this new horsepower (intellectual and political), the Dems haven’t responded to the Republicans’ entreaties and resolutely won’t yield on any points. They continue to fight ECADA tooth and nail. Why? It’s politics, just politics. Drop any notion that the Dems care about you . . . or your employees . . . or your suppliers . . . or your dealers . . . . or the consumers, teachers, families or schools that want, need and use your products every day. Jobs, schmobs. The well-documented and negative consequences of the CPSIA on our markets and economy (not to mention the paltry or nonexistent acheivements of the law) are just not on the Dems’ radar. They only care about getting reelected – their concern is simply themselves. As in 2008, the ECADA issue is tailor-made for political gains. As far as I can tell, that’s too tempting a morsel to pass up, damn the consequences on the “little people”. The Dems argue to the populace that anything that makes the world better for your business necessarily makes life worse for kids. Zero sum. It’s a stupid, nonsensical argument, but if you give it no thought, it might SOUND good. The Dems know their position makes them look good to a dozing electorate and a gullible media, and makes the Republicans push a lot of chips into the center of the table to do the right thing for our country. The Dems are also catering to their power base, the consumerists. The consumer groups have their own axes to grind. For one thing, if they give an inch here, some people might accuse them of being hypocrites. After all, they have repeated the Big Lie (“There is no safe level of lead”) for so long that it would come as a shock and disappointment to their true believers if they conceded the (intentional) error of their bumper sticker slogan. In addition, their budgets are paid for by trial lawyers. If they give in, there will less money available for tort lawyers to suck out of the system. That won’t work, will it? So the Dems are opposing restoring sanity to the safety laws for entirely self-interested political reasons. Not ONE Democrat has EVER broken with the Waxman line. They have stuck together like glue. Hats off to them for being well-organized. But the Dems should be ashamed of themselves as public citizens – by putting their own PERSONAL interests ahead of the country and its economic engine, they are taking the low road. Throwing our company, our jobs, our products, the families and schools that need our products, throwing everyone under the bus all to save their own jobs – that’s contemptible. This is your government at work. Please reach out to your Congressmen to express your outrage. Send emails and faxes, and ask your friends, relatives and associates to do it, too. Let’s clog the inboxes with complaints. It’s time to stand up for what’s right!
CPSIA – Status of CPSIA Amendment (ECADA)
May 26, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, CPSIA Updates, Featured Articles
With the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) stalled for the moment, it’s a good time to reflect on where we are. I want to know what you think. As I see it, this is a case of the unstoppable force colliding with the immovable object. Guess where we are located? At the point of collision. On one side, you have the Republicans. They have always decently listened to our issues and tried to help. Only after the 2010 Midterm elections were they in a position to get things done. With the power of the House majority behind them today, they have taken the political risk and shown the political will to craft a reasonable, measured and, frankly, surgical amendment of the acknowledged defective CPSIA. Interesting sidelight : The legislative dynamic in Congress in 2008 seems long-forgotten. At that time, the Dems controlled both Houses and the dominant player was San Francisco’s own Nancy Pelosi. The CPSIA was negotiated during a time when she and her minions ran the show. True, there was a Republican President BUT owing to the media frenzy at the time, no one was willing to take the political risk of asking any questions. Congressional hearings were controlled by the Dems in both Houses and stage-managed them to achieve the right “tone”. Behind the scenes, the legislative negotiations between the parties at that time are best described as stiff-arms. The Republicans were jammed on many of the worst anti-business terms in the CPSIA and the sting never went away. This may be why they are so sympathetic to our cause today. Please keep this in mind when the consumer groups and the Dems cluck about the 2008 super-majority, bipartisan vote on the original bill. In fact, the Repbulicans would tell you that they had no choice. Sounds convenient, perhaps, but if you talk to them, you will quickly see that they really mean it. On the other side of this collision are the unscrupulous consumer groups and the Dems. This cabal works together for political advantage. The Dems, led by Henry Waxamn, see that they can use ECADA to score political points. They know that the Republicans don’t want consumer groups to send out letters to their constituents saying that the incumbent voted to endanger children with lead in toys. I know it’s sick, but that’s reality in Washington. This may give you some perspective on why people say Washington is “broken”. It is. The Dems want to score points against the Republicans, and the fact that we are being squished in the process is a cost they are willing to bear. Get it, your demise is a cost they are willing to bear, all for the “greater good” of politically endangering the Republicans. Remember, Members of the House are continually running for office. It takes true courage to do the right thing when you are exposed to Machievellian forces like Mr. Waxman and his merry band of manipulators. For this reason, I am fairly pessimistic about the prospects of this law. You get the same sinking feeling watching the talking heads on CNBC discuss the deficit and war over the national debt limit and hearing our national leaders talk blandly about the consequences of default on U.S. Treasuries. No big deal . . . . The politicians are playing with our lives, but act as though it is some of kabuki theater, Model UN gone mad. Do you think they are looking for a good grade, rather than doing the right thing for America? I rule out that the Dems are totally ignorant of science. I rule out that they don’t understand the data on injuries or what it means for their law. I think they simply don’t care about these things. Their profession is politics, and all that matters is the taste left the mouths of voters. A bill easing up on businesses over lead in children’s products has political weaknesses that the Dems prefer to exploit. The needs of our community are a secondary consideration. A distant second, too. So . . . what do you think? What do you recommend in this hot stove league? Can we do anything about this tragi-comedy, can we save products, companies, markets and jobs before the consequences of inaction suffocates them all out of existence? Let me know. Thanks.
View the original here:
CPSIA – Tell me What You Think
This appears to be Henry Waxman’s attempt to clarify his position on the CPSIA Amendment ahead of Thursday’s mark-up.
March 31, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles
Yesterday Senators Klobuchar and Tester offered an amendment to S. 493, a moving bill to reauthorize the small business administration (“SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011″).
March 29, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade has produced a new draft amendment of the CPSIA.
March 21, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles
Here’s the scoop: there is no safe level for lead but apparently there ARE safe levels for radiation.
According to reports today, the radiation drifting over from Japan is “harmless”. No one should worry one little bit even though the Japanese radioactive material is now on the EAST Coast of the U.S.: “Since last week, the officials have tracked the radioactive plume as it has drifted eastward on prevailing winds from Japan — first to the West Coast and now over the East Coast and the Atlantic, moving toward Europe. . . . On Monday, European officials said the plume had reached the East Coast after drifting over North America. One station that detected the fresh radioactivity is in Charlottesville, Va., officials said.”
This is not a problem, believe me. For one thing, it’s not lead, for heavens sake – it’s only iodine-131, iodine-132, tellurium-132 and cesium 137. You probably put that stuff on your cereal, tough guy!
The radiation levels are so low that the experts won’t release them. They probably don’t want to bother us, the levels are so low. “The global network of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, has detected the movements of the plume. The organization’s mandate is to monitor the global ban on the testing of nuclear arms, and it has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes. The group has declined to make the recent findings public, but it shares its information with 120 member states, some of which have divulged the status of the plume’s movements.”
Experts point out that radioactivity is everywhere, what’s the problem with a little more???
The federal government apparently agrees with this guy: “While the news of these radioactive substances being detected may startle some residents, the EPA has emphasized that the normal daily dose of radiation is 100,000 times higher than the radiation found at these monitoring stations. Every day, people are exposed to radiation unknowingly. Radiation is present in food, air, water, and even our homes, all of which are natural sources of it. Increased exposure to radiation can come from medical procedures and industrial occupations as well.” [Emphasis added]
This is in interesting contrast to lead which as everyone knows is dangerous down to one lone, little atom. I know this because pseudo-scientists like American Academy of Pediatricians (fearful of bicycle licking!) and Consumers Union (terrified about 4th graders playing brass instruments!) have repeated over and over that there is NO safe level for lead. NO safe level, kids! They’re experts so they must know, right??? At least they say they’re experts . . . .
These folks pushed Congressional patsies to impose an outright ban on ANY children’s product that might emit ANY lead into the human body. [Section 101(b) of the CPSIA] The CPSC Commission (really, the Democrats on the Commission) helpfully interpreted Section 101(b) to refer to ANY lead, meaning one atom. Nothing ON EARTH can be exempted on this basis, so nothing has been given a pass under the lame-o exemption provision of the act. Had troubling finding choices in new children’s bikes? Want to buy a youth model ATV? Remember the days when you could buy rhinestones to embellish your children’s shoes or pants or in the form of cheap jewelry? You can thank Section 101(b) for this absurd situation. L&K to the AAP and CU (and let’s not forget the Queen Bee of the zealots, Rachel Weintraub of the CFA) for all this safety!
Thank heavens that AAP, CU and CFA aren’t worried about radioactivity. That means there MUST BE safe levels of radioactivity . . . . I see, Fukushima prefecture spinach or milk isn’t really dangerous – but it will give you a healthy glow!
Read more here:
CPSIA – Good News and Bad News
March 2, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles, In the News
Senator Jay Rockefeller issued a press release today to slam the Pompeo Amendment de-funding the CPSIA database. Mr. Rockefeller apparently feels that the legitimate concerns of American manufacturers and retailers pale against the need for consumers to make product judgments based on unfiltered hearsay, lies and nonsense:
“’This database will provide important safety information to American consumers,’ Chairman Rockefeller added. ‘A mother will be able to check the CPSC database to see if there are complaints about a crib model. A young couple will be able to see if a certain microwave has a history of safety complaints or if there are complaints about a coffee maker shorting and causing fires. I will fight this ill-informed proposal to undermine such an important consumer protection tool. It’s a bad idea and a bum deal for American consumers.’” [Emphasis added]
Consumers will also be able to decide to stop driving Toyotas because of accusations borne of driver error, or drop DryMax diapers over discredited claims of diaper rash.
True story – last year, stopped at a stop light, my car was gently rear-ended by an elderly lady driving a Toyota. As I approached her car after inspecting the minimal damage, she expressed “shock” at the accident and informed me that it was “sudden acceleration” just like in the newspapers. Who could see such a calamity coming? I noticed a little dog on her lap, jumping up and down, trying to get out of the window to sniff me. Let’s just say that I didn’t immediately side with her “explanation” of the accident. Nice doggy! That incident could have been reported under the current terms of the new database (were it a consumer product). Who would pay the price for that kind of baloney assertion? The manufacturer – with no defenses whatsoever.
Nothing surprises me anymore BUT Senator Rockefeller’s denials fly in the face of House testimony given on February 17th, not to mention the outpouring of testimony, data and legitimate procedural complaints by industry. In the hearing on the 17th, Inez Tenenbaum ADMITTED that the agency will be posting information that may be inaccurate or false. To quote Ms. Tenenbaum, “that’s what the rub is”.
I cannot overstate how frustrating it is (remains) to see Democrats stick to the script notwithstanding data and testimony that directly undercuts their position (and their credibility). Either they think we are morons, or else they must believe the government is something SEPARATE AND ABOVE the people. President Lincoln took a different view, stating in the Gettysburg Address:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
It is hard for me to believe Mr. Rockefeller believes what Mr. Lincoln instructed on that day. The testimony on the database is not a farce, and our concerns are legitimate. If the concerns for consumers are actually so urgent, why not hit the “pause button” to fix the issues affecting those of us stubbornly trying to provide jobs in this country? Talk to the Pompeo staff – they want to FIX the database, not kill it. Is it really necessary to trash the economy out of pure stubbornness?
The time to genuflect to the holy CPSIA and its misguided almost-unanimous passage through Congress is OVER. Senator Rockefeller, please pay attention to the legitimate needs of those who provide JOBS to your constituents and de-fund the CPSIA database until it can be fixed. You represent the many millions of people who are still working in this country, too. It’s time to remember EVERYBODY’S interest in this matter, not just the left edge of the left wing.
Read more here:
CPSIA – Senate Dems Try to Line up Against Pompeo Amendment
February 17, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles
There’s a lot happening! Here are a few highlights:
a. Fox News is reporting that today’s hearing is the beginning of an effort by House Republicans to restore common sense to the CPSIA. Be still my heart! Of course, readers of this space knew that the cavalry was coming. Lots of good people are pulling for change right now but the path forward will not be easy. On the one side, we have Republicans: “‘There are parts of (the children’s product safety law) that need to be peeled back and thrown into the trash,’ said one Republican source close to the process.” And on the other side, you have the fear mongers: “‘When the first children get sick from using a product with lead, it will point out the folly of their ‘common sense,’ said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based Kids in Danger, who is testifying at Thursday’s hearing. ‘It’s common sense to most people not to have lead in their products.’”
b. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is introducing (or introduced, not sure) an amendment to the Continuing Resolution currently on the floor of the House to DE-FUND THE DATABASE! Hurray for Mike Pompeo. This move is garnering strong public support from other Republican leaders in the House. Cross your fingers. Again, there’s a long road ahead. Here is the amendment:
AMENDMENT TO H.R. 1
OFFERED BY MR. POMPEO OF KANSAS
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
SEC. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to carry out any of the activities described in section 6A of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2055a).
c. The Democrats are going away meekly on the CPSIA. Yesterday, Henry Waxman together with Subcommittee Ranking Member G.K. Butterfield put out a press release entitled “New Poll Shows “Very Strong” Support for Federal Consumer Product Safety Efforts“. Bringing to mind popularity polls released by Idi Amin back in the waning days of his Emperorship, the poll commissioned by Consumer Reports indicates that 98% of consumers “agreed strongly or somewhat that the federal government should play a prominent role in improving product safety”. If they included my vote . . . . The Waxman/Butterfield press release references three Pompeo amendments but it is my understanding that only the database amendment above will be introduced.
The Pompeo amendment and this absurd push poll are related events. You can examine how “out of touch with reality” we apparently are by checking out the amazing poll details at this link.
d. Inez Tenenbaum has also been commissioned to push back on Pompeo. Yesterday, she posted a joint blogpost with U.S. PIRG on the topic of the database. As Carter Wood of NAM’s Shopfloor blog pithily tweeted: “Hard to imagine #CPSC Commissioners Nord or Northup ever co-blogging with NAM or Rick Woldenberg the day before a cmte hearing.” Carter makes an interesting point. I am not hurt, by the way . . . . He also notes: “Tenenbaum’s co-blogging at the site of a leading left-leaning activist group immediately before the hearing almost looks like a conscious poke in the eye to committee members.”
Should be another interesting day today!
Read more here:
CPSIA – News Round-up Ahead of Hearing
February 9, 2011 by Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles
It was about one year ago when the Federal government went into overdrive in trashing Toyota, a widely admired and reputable company, for its apparently defective automotive accelerator mechanism. I say “apparently” because our fearless leaders in government reached that conclusion that Toyotas were defective based on hasty conclusions and a document review . . . but no scientific research. This is hardly a shock. I have previously observed that manufacturing a dangerous public enemy in an election year is quite helpful to members of Congress – after all, we need to be reminded who’s working so hard to save us.
A quick reminder: the CPSIA was passed in August 2008. Oh my gosh, that’s right before a national election!
The drive to jump on board and bash Toyota was overwhelming. Recalling Joe Biden’s helpful 2009 advice to not fly or take the subway because of a swine flu outbreak, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood warned Americans to stop driving Toyotas in a Congressional hearing last year. You can’t be TOO safe! Think of the impact on the company and its brand. Yesterday he announced Toyotas “are safe to drive“. Oops. . . .
Not to be outdone, Rep. Henry Waxman, the man principally responsible for being subject to the CPSIA without amendment now almost three years later, torched the company for its supposed misdeeds in his opening statement at his committee’s hearing on February 23, 2010. What did Toyota do wrong? Well, he says the “defect” in their cars had to be in the newfangled electronics in the accelerator mechanism. Callous Toyota didn’t look at the electronics, Mr. Waxman contends. Instead, he said “There is no evidence that Toyota . . . took a serious look at the possibility that electronics defects could be causing the problem . . . . Toyota had three responses: first, blame the driver; second, blame the floor mat; third, blame a sticky gas pedal. And NHTSA, without doing any meaningful independent review, accepted Toyota’s recommendations.”
Clearly NHTSA needed David Strickland to fix everything and make us all so safe – he did such a great job on the CPSIA!
Ironically, Mr. Waxman was pretty clairvoyant that day. NHTSA (under David Strickland’s guidance) concluded yesterday that Toyota’s purported three “responses” were the right explanations for the sudden acceleration problem. See the WSJ article linked above. Hmmm. Mr. Waxman carried on to warn Toyota that “safety must start coming first” (implying that Mr. Waxman’s judgment on auto safety is superior to Toyota’s) and concluded that “ultimately . . . addressing this problem will require legislation.”
I feel another CPSIA flashback coming on . . . .
The Toyota feeding frenzy even swept up our own Chairman Tenenbaum who couldn’t resist pointing the finger, too: “A new Commission that has new powers – and we are not afraid to use them. If you resist our efforts to recall children’s products, be forewarned, this Commission stands ready to be creative in the use of our enforcement authorities. As the Toyota experience has shown in recent weeks, this government will not allow for delay in recalling dangerous products.” No delay whatsoever – even to figure out if they are actually dangerous! Didn’t McDonald’s recall safe Shrek glasses “out of an abundance of caution” at the request of the CPSC? Toyota was quite inspiring, I guess.
To put a bow on the conclusion of this comedy of errors, Public Citizen (the consumer group purporting to “protect” you in the CPSIA saga, too) asserts that the government’s Toyota study is not “convincing”. I have previously explained why folks like Public Citizen will NEVER give up the ghost here. There is probably nothing that could convince them that they were wrong in the first place. After all, that’s pretty de-legitimizing. We certainly can’t have that! Think AAP on lead.
Blamestorming in Congress, jumping to conclusions based on a media frenzy, little hard information and a lot of political drum banging? Brandishing the blunt force of excessive government power to beat a company senseless? Toyota is one of the largest companies in the world. Imagine if this excessive power were taken against a small business? Imagine . . . .
As I said last year, the Toyota feeding frenzy is what we have been subject to, now for three years, in the sad CPSIA debacle. At a Congressional hearing next week when I may face the same legislators who took Toyota down – for no good reason – I must again defend our right to conduct business responsibly without the intrusion of government into everything we do. Having written a law to keep children “safe”, Congress is quite reluctant to admit their error and admit that we can keep kids safe without being told how to do it. The basic reason is that they can’t acknowledge that kids weren’t at risk from lead BEFORE the law. It’s easier for them to ruin our businesses than to do the right thing.
Just to be clear, it is absolutely irrefutably clear that the agents for change here are the Republicans and the opponents to remaking the CPSIA into something workable and sensible are the Democrats. As I have stated before, Democrats in the Senate are still working to block change. They are like Public Citizen – NO possible data can convince them.
Will Congress ever admit that the definition of Children’s Product is too broad, that the scope of ages covered by the CPSIA is damaging to our markets, that we are over-regulating extremely minor or unreal risks while ignoring big risks (thereby actually making children LESS safe), that the rising (risen?) specter of liability is having a very negative effect on the conduct of business, that the encouragement of rabid enforcement at the CPSC has created an environment of mindless and uncompromising rule following (creating many starkly unfair results and ruining the reputation of a proud agency accustomed to doing good), and so on? That’s a good question.
Tune in next week and see for yourself!
Read more here:
CPSIA – What Can We Learn From the Toyota Debacle?