We can debate the “social issues” all we want, but if we do so we’re being diverted.
What we must talk about as a nation and as a people lies in HR. 5652, which was the substitute to Ryan’s game-playing on the sequester — and which passed yesterday in The House.
Of note to Florida voters in the 1st District is that both Miller and Southerland (FL 1 and 2) voted Aye on passage. So what’s in there?
First, SNAP (food stamp) benefit expansion from the ARRA of 2009 is being rescinded effective June 30th. Other technical changes are also made to restrict eligibility as well.
State bonuses for SNAP are ended, indexing is removed, and most of the changes are made effective (other than those with specific dates) October 1st (new Fiscal year.)
Funding for medical insurance exchanges to the states is revoked.
A number of other changes are made that directly impact funding of Medicaid transfer payments to the states as well, including the state “bribes” in the form of “bonus payments.”
But then things get interesting.
Dodd-Frank contained a liquidation authority for banks. This authority is repealed by this bill, leaving the government in the same place it was before 2008 — that is, subject to the same sort of blackmail that was run by Paulson and Bernanke with the “tanks in the streets” threats before Congress!
HAMP is terminated. This was a bogus plan that led to more harm than good, in my opinion, and should have never been enacted in the first place. Good riddance.
Consumer protection (the new bureau) is brought under appropriations (arguably good) and FEMA flood insurance authority is extended. In addition the maximum coverage limits for NFIP insurance become indexable to inflation.
The Consumer Research Office in Dodd-Frank is struck in its entirety (I didn’t like this one originally as it appeared duplicative.)
Then there are some “fun” provisions.
One of them is a $250,000 statutory limit on non-economic damages in health-related lawsuits. This one came out of left field — I had no idea it was being proposed. Actual economic damages remain uncapped but things like pain and suffering.
I have a strenuous objection to this law in that it codifies actual and constructive fraud upon juries — the act specifically provides:
The jury shall not be informed about the maximum award for noneconomic damages. An award for noneconomic damages in excess of $250,000 shall be reduced either before the entry of judgment, or by amendment of the judgment after entry of judgment, and such reduction shall be made before accounting for any other reduction in damages required by law. If separate awards are rendered for past and future noneconomic damages and the combined awards exceed $250,000, the future noneconomic damages shall be reduced first.
Isn’t that special?
In addition the law limits contingency fees collected by attorneys. Are the limits reasonable? You decide — they start at 40% for the first $50,000 (the part that counts for most smaller cases!) and drops to 15% over $600,000. Isn’t that special — you can give up nearly half, but as the award grows (you really got reamed) and the case gets more complex and harder to prosecute the lawyers get less. Just, unjust, you decide.
There are also substantive limits on punitive damages. Actual malice or “substantial certainty” of knowledge of unnecessary injury is required. That’s a tough standard — is it just? You decide.
But what’s not arguable is that again there is a cap of two times the economic damages or $250,000, whichever is greater, and again the jury is barred from being informed of the limits.
So we’re actively concealing the truth from juries again. The limits may be just but active concealment and fraud upon a jury is not.
In addition there’s another nasty sop to the pharmaceutical and device industry: Anything that conforms to FDA standards is exempt from punitive damage awards. Isn’t that nice? So if the FDA approved it and it was later shown to be intentionally defective, tough crap — you can’t sue for punitive damages.
It gets worse — a health provider who dispenses or provides an FDA approved product cannot be named in such a suit even if they have actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous nature of the product.
There is only one exception: If the FDA itself was bribed or information was intentionally fabricated or withheld from the FDA’s processes.
This is a literal “screw the patient” license for dangerous procedures and drugs that the government is free to hand out at will! If you can get it through government approval through anything short of felonious conduct then that’s tough crap for you as a patient.
There are some changes for civil service retirement income contributions.
Block grants to the states for social services under 42 USC (Social Security Act), sections 2001 – 2007, are struck entirely.
Oh, and Ryan’s original bill I reported on? It’s attached to this thing, in full, as Title VII, and as I reported previously not only blocks all cuts in defense but also eliminates all PAYGO considerations.
These issues are important folks. They’re tough to understand and go through, and contrary to what Huffington Post “reported” yesterday the bill is not at all clear nor is it all bad.
But there are several serious “poison pills” in there that are outrageous destructions of individual rights and liberty. Among them are more special protections from banksters which is especially outrageous in light of JP Morgans’ disclosure last night and the outrage committed by so-called “budget hawks” that then turn around and find ways to spend the same money on defense that they agreed would be cut if they could not reach a deal with Democrats.
There are no honest representatives in the Republican or Democrat parties — all are simply looking for new and innovative ways to throw you under the bus.
Vote Libertarian; at least this way you have an honest shot at getting what you actually voted for!