So What’s The Real State of the Union?
Last night we heard President Bush's final (!) State of the Union speech. The Drum Major Institute has prepared a response that addresses some of his statements and how they affect the middle class. Go here to read the full report.
Specific to Civil Justice, Bush didn't have a whole lot to say that diverged greatly from his past statements, but what references he made to our civil justice sytem certainly had stunning implications for our rights. In brief review:
1) Bush drew upon one of his favorite fairytales--the "epidemic of junk lawsuits"--you know, the "crisis" that has been proven, time and again, not to exist. Needless to say this was an appeal to insurance industry cronies that have doctors, patients, and the public at large generally misled about the crisis in malpractice. The crisis is that these insurance companies are pilfering from doctors and telling the docs that injured plaintiffs and their lawyers are to blame. For starters, read the Presidential Platform's Medical Malpractice section or go to CJ&D to learn about this issue.
PRESIDENT BUSH SAYS we should reduce medical malpractice lawsuits. “Congress must… promote health information technology and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits.”
DMI SAYS: Health information technology has the potential to both increase patient safety and reduce medical costs, both important goals for middle-class Americans. But appealing to the myth of rampant “junk lawsuits” will lead to measures that put patient safety in grave danger.. By blocking Americans’ ability to sue medical providers such “reform” would eliminate a critical incentive for maintaining high quality patient care. (Keep reading)
2) Bush also spoke of granting amnesty to his corporate cronies who spied on the American public. Insisting that he's concerned with protecting Americans, he urged for legislation to protect the companies that spied on us. Although he has in the past vowed to veto any version of the bill that doesn't look exactly like he wants it, earlier in his speech he defended the importance of open Congressional debate as a democractic value. So, I guess he means it's a value so long as the result of debate fits his agenda. I'd say I've written about this issue ad nauseam, but what's really nauseating is how this issue is being mischaracterized as one that is centered on the American public's safety and security, when it's really about preserving the Administration's power to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and to take its friends along for the ride.
Earlier Monday, Sen. Harry Reid had this to say:
The American people deserve to know that when President Bush talks about the foreign intelligence bill tonight, he's doing little more than shooting for cheap political points - and we should reject his efforts... None of us want the current law to expire. Except Cheney and Bush. But if it does expire ... surveillance will not end, even if they stop us from extending the bill. All surveillance orders issued under the law we passed last August, the Protect America Act, are effective for one year, so they will continue until at least August of 2008. Even in a last resort... FISA includes provisions for emergency warrantless surveillance, and it always has... We must pass a bill that gives our intelligence authorities the tools they need, while protecting the privacy of all Americans.
3) Finally, as important as what the President did say, is what he didn't say. For instance, he didn't address the needs of the Ground Zero workers who have attended each of his State of the Union addresses since 9/11/01. Ground Zero volunteer John Feal was quoted on his views about Bush's inattention to the lingering needs of rescue volunteers whose ailing health and skyrocketing medical expenses go unattended to: "You got $3 billion a month to kill people," Feal said. "You got $3 billion a year for health care." Read the full article here.
Browse TortDeform's Ground Zero-related blog posts here.