This Week in the House

Obama Administration

On the House agenda this week, along with the utterly predictable Keep Your Health Plan Act, is another bill that might be called the Screw the Little Guy Act.

I wrote about this bill last May, and via a blog called The Pop Tort I see that it could be voted on this week. This is H.R.982, called the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013. Here’s some background from my earlier post

As asbestos manufacturers faced lawsuits from sick and dying workers, many went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect their assets. Some of these manufacturers were required to set up asbestos personal injury trusts, which were responsible for compensating present and future claimants. The FACT Act of 2013 would require these trusts to disclose much personal information about the claimants, a requirement that seems to have little purpose except to dissuade people from filing claims. (According to the General Accounting Office, personal information about individual claimants may be obtained today with the permission of the claimants or in response to a legitimate subpoena, but otherwise the privacy of claimants is respected.)

Or, as the Pop Tort blogger explained, the bill does two things:

1) it requires asbestos trusts to disclose on a public web site private, confidential information about every asbestos claimant and their families, including their names, addresses, where they work, how much they make, some medical information, how much they received in compensation and the last four digits of their social security numbers; and 2) it allows any defendant in any asbestos lawsuit the right to demand any information about any asbestos victim from any asbestos trust at any time for any reason.

The New York Times editorial board said in June,

The Republican bill, known as the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT) of 2013, would allow asbestos companies to demand information from the trusts for virtually any reason, forcing the trusts to devote limited resources to responding to fishing expeditions that will slow the process of paying claims.

The bill would also increase the burden on claimants to supply information. But it puts virtually no burdens on asbestos companies, like disclosing the settlements they have reached with plaintiffs or requiring them to reveal where their products were used and when, so that workers know which companies or trusts might be liable for their injuries.

So, yeah, the only purpose of this bill is to intimidate sick people, or their survivors, from filing claims, and if they do file claims to be sure they get as little as possible as late as possible.

I know it’s an article of faith among a lot of these bozos Republican legislators that people file claims who aren’t even sick. But if that were the case, it ought to be fairly easy to stipulate that claimants provide a diagnosis of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease from a qualified medical provider. Oh, wait; the law already on the books does that. Never mind.

The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign has an online petition to stop the FACT Act.

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  1. uncledad  •  Nov 12, 2013 @2:48 pm

    “I know it’s an article of faith among a lot of these bozos Republican legislators that people file claims who aren’t even sick”

    You know that’s the real problem with today’s Republicant, they think everyone else is as fucking corrupt and without conscience as they are.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 12, 2013 @3:05 pm

    Conservatives and Republicans spend much more time disguising harmful legislation with cute-sounding names, like “FACT,” than they ever do on legislation that might actually help anyone who doesn’t make at least a mid-6 to low-7 figure annual salary – actually, in FACT, they spend NO time on that type of legislation.

    As evidence, I present, “The Clear Skies Act” – which didn’t clear the skies of anything – except for birds, that is.

  3. Doug  •  Nov 12, 2013 @10:19 pm

    Step back a moment and look at how this came about. I’m speculating but if I’m seriously wrong I will eat my hat. The owners of these trusts, the asbestos companies, paid a lot of money to a lobbyist firm or firms. (It’s entirely possible that the lobbyist firms actually wrote the legislation, but that’s not part of the hat bet.)

    Here’s how the lobbyist scam works (and both parties are in on it). Lobbyists can’t pay money to congresscritters or contribute to their reelection. BUT they can hire an x-congressperson after they leave office. And they do. Very nearly half of the recently retired Congress (50% of the Senate and 46% of the House) are now employed by the lobbyist industry and on average, they make (drum roll) 14 times what they did as congresscritters. About 2 million annually for selling out the American public like Judas did to Jesus, but for a lot more than 30 pieces of silver.

    We can, we do and we will continue to harp about moronic legislation on a case by case basis, but if you want this crap to end, end the corruption of Congress. If a Congress-person can not ever benefit personally from some hairbrained scheme, he won’t bother trying to introduce the bill, and if he does, it will die in committee when the lobbyists have no leverage to ram it thru.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 13, 2013 @7:41 am

    That’s what’s behind the whole “privatization” of government scheme is all about – guaranteeing feather beds for the politicians who support it, once they either retire from office, or get retired by the voters.
    There may be some things that private companies can do better than government for “We the people (but not many – because they’re not looking out for “We the people,” but for ‘Them, their exec’s and shareholders’), but I’m suspicious of every attempt to privatize any function or agency, for the above reason.
    Foremost among the worst, and most stupid and suicidal things that any society can privatize, are its military and education.
    “HELLO! Been there – and doing that!!!”

  5. Swami  •  Nov 13, 2013 @2:33 pm

    Isn’t the third week in November traditionally Hate Week for the GOP, or is that just a Tea Party ritual?

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 13, 2013 @2:41 pm

    Hate “Week?”
    I thought it was HATE 24 X 7 X 364 + 23 Hours + 58 Minutes.

    I think once a year, they allow themselves “A 2-minute Love.”

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