(Alexandria, VA) - Yesterday's vote in the Senate that blocked further consideration of the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act has earned praise from the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). In response to the vote, NTU Policy Analyst Jeff Dircksen, who authored a study of the FAIR Act, made the following statement:
"The Senate's vote to sustain a budget point of order against the FAIR Act may have spared the nation's taxpayers from catastrophic liabilities in the near future. The close decision shows just how vital a difference fiscally-conservative Senators made in tipping the balance against this ill-advised legislation. Without their courage, Americans would now be facing the prospect of a bad bill becoming a whole lot worse as it moves through the legislative process.
No legislation creating a new entitlement can carry a rock-solid price tag, but estimates of the FAIR Act's fiscal impact had all the consistency of shifting sand. The only certain thing about this legislation was its uncertainty - a point that Congressional Budget Office documents often stressed, even as supporters of the FAIR Act cited CBO's cost estimate as gospel.
Congress now has several options to address the asbestos issue. The filing deadline for claims could be extended, so that potential litigants have more time to be compensated for a specific condition. Better medical criteria, such as those contained in legislation from Congressman Chris Cannon, could help lawmakers get a clearer idea of the costs associated with providing relief and thereby help to shield taxpayers from explosive debt. Limits on punitive damages could weed out cases brought by cash-crazed opportunists, and allow the courts to better concentrate on the truly deserving victims.
We are thankful to those Senators who broke ranks with their own party to protect the millions of taxpayers who would have been left to clean up the fiscal fallout from this bill. We will remain on guard against any attempts to resurrect what has to be the most deceptively-named legislation in this Congress -- the FAIR Act."
NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more economic freedom at all levels. Note: Dircksen's study, Gordian Knot: How the Senate's Asbestos "Reform" Bill Entangles Taxpayers, is available at www.ntu.org.