Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Asbestos Bill Fails

Asbestos Bill Fails
Sunk For Now, It's Back to the Drawing Board

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin derided the failed asbestos bill as "an Armageddon of special interests."

Asbestos victims oppose the asbestos bill, saying that creating a trust fund to redress their ills is nothing more than a corporate 'bailout.'

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., a cosponsor of the asbestos bill (with Vermont's Senator Patrick Leahy), said in a news conference Thursday that if the bill failed, he doubted there would be another. (Specter's wrong, it was an idle threat - it's gone right back to the Senate floor because the White House wants to curtail citizen lawsuits and save the offending corporations).

"Last chance!" says Senate majority leader Bill Frist. (as if it's some great prize).

The White House will support the bill if it pays "only those who are sick." (Bureaucracy to determine whether or not you're sick? *shudder*)

Why Democrats would not support the bill: Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee estimated the fund would fall short by $150 billion.

Supporters of the legislation say the trust fund would better compensate victims than would suits, which are blamed for bankrupting more than 70 companies.

On the market, asbestos shares slid as the relief bill failed. (Investors realized that corporations would not be bailed out at this time).

There are loopholes for offending corporations, and many of them have resorted to using them, screwing citizens out of settlements. USG filed for bankruptcy in June 2001, yet the Corporation reported record net sales of $5.1 billion for 2005. Knowing they can't get around the situation, they've hoped for a bailout. When bailouts do not come, what does a Corporation do? Seeming ethical (while relying heavily on the bill being passed - fully expecting their bailout), USG has set aside their own $900 million trust fund for settlement of all asbestos claims against it - what USG estimates to be its obligation under the trust-fund bill -- and a contingent note for $3.05 billion, which would be canceled if the bill is enacted.
"While USG and companies like them will derive enormous benefits, many small and medium-sized companies that support hundreds of local communities around this nation will need to shut their doors."

- Tom O'Brien, chairman of the Coalition for Asbestos Reform, exposing S.852 for what it is
Would the market take care of itself if left alone - each company working ethically to resolve these claims? Why do the Fortune 500 companies win out from the passing of this bill while smaller companies will likely fail? Even at the Business level, the rich get richer and the poor get wiped out.

Opponents claim that this USG deal exposes a Fortune 500 'windfall' from the Asbestos Bill.
"USG's announcement of an agreement to resolve asbestos personal injury claims should show the U.S. Senate once and for all exactly why S.852 is a boon to a handful of Fortune 500 companies and a death knell to smaller and medium-sized companies," said Tom O'Brien, chairman of the Coalition for Asbestos Reform. "It is rare that the financial benefits inherent in a piece of legislation for a single company are so clearly quantified -- no wonder companies like USG are spending millions of dollars on advertising to get this bill passed."

Republicans are always pounding rhetorically about 'no unnecessary taxes.'

It's utter hypocrisy!

The truth is, they (and the White House) want this bill to pass (on the cheap, which is why the Democrats are obstructing its passage). They want to bail out corporations to protect the richest while the poor are left to depend upon the Bureaucracy that Bush purports to bemoan! They'll tell the public that trial lawyers are the bad guys (and most of the Legislative branch are lawyers themselves) while tying citizen's free hands in chains to the bureaucracy - and American taxpayers will foot the bill for the cancers caused by bailed-out corporations.

Harvard Study Blasts 'No Child Left Behind'

Harvard Study Blasts 'No Child Left Behind'

NYT - Harvard Study Blasts No Child Left Behind
..a surge in the number of schools identified as ``needing improvement,'' including many considered top performers in their state, has stirred opposition to the law nationwide -- from a legal challenge in Connecticut to a rebellion by state legislators in staunchly Republican Utah.