Pop Torts

Pop Torts

Explaining the Republican obsession of so-called ‘Tort Reform’

Michael McFarland

Ah, the good ol’ days of spring.  Remember way back when in, say, March 2010 when the Health Care Reform (HCR) debate was coming to a rousing crescendo?  What a “spirited” time that was, huh?  One thing still sticks out at me: The Republicans’ petulant insistence on tort reform being the be-all, end-all of true HCR.

Let’s think about that for just a second.  Our annual costs associated with the health care system runs at roughly $2.4 trillion.  The Congressional Budget Office actually scored tort reform as the Republicans would craft it and they came back with a finding of $54 billion per year in savings.  $2.4 trillion vs. $54 billion.  Hmmm.  Something’s fishy.

Why the insistence?  Why the foot stomping?  Why the messaging campaign?

Let’s take a trip down to the Gulf of Mexico for the answer.

I recently posted a blog demonstrating the potential costs associated with the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf.  We’re talking in the tens of billions of dollars.  When people in the affected region start developing cancer, emphysema, asthma, other chronic disorders and diseases, they will rightly seek redress from BP/TransOcean/Halliburton through civil suits.  Think about all the mesothelioma commercials that dominate the midday television broadcasts.  Guess what kind of law deals with such things?

Tort law.

Tort is defined as “a wrongful act, not including a breach of contract or trust, that results in injury to another’s person, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation” (Dictionary.com).  Tort law is simply the legal manner through which those “wrongful acts” are remedied.

Bring it all together and it should now be clear to you why “Tort Reform” is such a sticking point for Republicans.  Republicans are as predictable as a Pez dispenser on this.

If they ever achieve tort reform, damages are capped in instances of people seeking rightful redress for damages across the entire tort system.

What this all boils down to is Republicans reflexively defending corporations over the interests of people.  It’s their cause celebre, or worse, their raison d’etre.  It’s why they cling to it during the HCR debate even though it represents 2% of total costs.  It’s why they utilize the so-called “slip-and-fall lawyers” talking point to smear the tort legal practice.  It’s why gaining a pittance of a victory on a seemingly unrelated piece of legislation actually provides quite a boon of a victory in another area.

It’s an attack on you.  It’s an attack on all of us.  It’s underhanded.  It’s sneaky.  It’s oh, so Republican.

3 Responses to “Pop Torts”

  1. Melissa Barling Says:

    Ah yes I remember tort reform. President Obama said he’d consider it but he didn’t believe it to be a silver bullet. I would have to agree with the President. In California we have already had tort reform for years at a 250K cap. That didn’t make a dent in rising health care costs. This year, Anthem Blue Cross has attempted twice to raise premiums for privately insured, 39%.

  2. ep3 Says:

    it’s only a matter of time before tort reform campaign dollars exceed tort lawyer campaign dollars and then democrats will jump on that boat as well.

  3. Jimmy Zuma Says:

    Keep an eye on Mike. If this is any example, I suspect he’s poised to be one of the left’s great new voices.

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