Keeping Score: 18 Dems Join Bush In War On Consumers
"Major legislation revising the rules by which class-action lawsuits are waged will be headed as early as next week to the White House for President Bush's signature, as easy Senate passage yesterday gave Bush and business groups a long-sought victory," reports the Washington Post
The Senate passed the bill [S.5] 72 to 26, as  Democrats [and Jeffords, I-VT] joined most Republicans [(2 didn't vote)] in passing the measure, which will funnel class-action suits with plaintiffs from multiple states out of state courts and into the federal system. Proponents say the change will lead to more rational and more consistent rulings. Consumer groups fighting the bill warned that, in practice, many valid claims will never be heard, because federal judges often dismiss class-action cases on procedural grounds....
The [Dem] amendments rejected by the Senate earlier in the week were aimed at ensuring that federal judges accept the cases, rather than dismiss them on the grounds that in national class-action cases there can be confusion about how to apply diverse state regulatory laws. The failure of the amendments, said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), showed that "the fix is in" and that the Senate has been "reduced to taking its marching orders on major legislation from corporate special interests and . . . allies in the White House."
Joan Claybrook, head of the consumer group Public Citizen, warned that yesterday's action "has given banks, credit card companies, insurers, HMOs, drug manufacturers and other big corporations a green light to defraud and deceive consumers without fear of being held accountable."
"The measure has been attacked by civil rights organizations, labor groups, consumer organizations, many state prosecutors and environmental groups, who say it would sharply curtail important cases and provide new protections for unscrupulous companies," reports the New York Times. "Many federal and state judges and state lawmakers have also criticized the bill, saying it would strip states of an important role in judging such contests and could add a considerable number of cases to already burdened federal dockets.
"'This bill is one of the most unfair, anticonsumer proposals to come before the Senate in years,' said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader. 'It slams the courthouse doors on a wide range of injured plaintiffs. It turns federalism upside down by preventing state courts from hearing state law claims. And it limits corporate accountability at a time of rampant corporate scandals.'"
The 26 Dems that voted against Bush, thereby supporting consumer and environmental protections, are:
Akaka (D-HI) Baucus (D-MT) Biden (D-DE) Boxer (D-CA) Byrd (D-WV) Clinton (D-NY) Corzine (D-NJ) Dayton (D-MN) Dorgan (D-ND) Durbin (D-IL) Feingold (D-WI) Harkin (D-IA) Inouye (D-HI) Kennedy (D-MA) Kerry (D-MA) Lautenberg (D-NJ) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Mikulski (D-MD) Murray (D-WA) Nelson (D-FL) Pryor (D-AR) Reid (D-NV) Sarbanes (D-MD) Stabenow (D-MI) Wyden (D-OR)
For those who are keeping score, only Senator Boxer has a perfect score of 100%.
Passing grades of 75% , based on the Ohio vote rejection, the Rice and Gonzales nominations, and the consumer protections vote go to:
Senators Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Harkin of Iowa.
20 other Dems and the lone Independent now have failing scores of 50%: Baucus (D-MT) Bayh (D-IN) Biden (D-DE) Clinton (D-NY) Corzine (D-NJ) Dayton (D-MN) Dorgan (D-ND) Feingold (D-WI) Inouye (D-HI) Jeffords (I-VT) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Mikulski (D-MD) Murray (D-WA) Nelson (D-FL) Pryor (D-AR) Reed (D-RI) Reid (D-NV) Sarbanes (D-MD) Stabenow (D-MI) Wyden (D-OR)
Those Dems who now have a grade of 25% are:
Bingaman (D-NM) Cantwell (D-WA) Carper (D-DE) Corzine (D-NJ) Dodd (D-CT) Feinstein (D-CA) Johnson (D-SD) Kohl (D-WI) Lincoln (D-AR) Obama (D-IL) Rockefeller (D-WV) Schumer (D-NY)
Fake Democrats with grades of zero are: Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Ken Salazar and Ben Nelson, both of Colorado, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. -
-Jerry Politex, 02.11.05