This morning, Tom Donahue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s first “billion dollar baby” when it comes to total lobbying expenditures, gave a speech identifying two ways it would like Congress to harm the injured. First, it would like the Senate to pass the House-passed bill,
H.R. 982, the so-called “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act” (FACT Act), [which] 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.
Second, it would like Congress to pass a law to help companies defraud the government. Or at least make it harder for the government to stop them. This is what they call “reasonable reforms in the False Claims Act.”
Many false claims cases these days involve pharmaceutical companies like the one against GlaxoSmithKline, which paid $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints stemming from a suit first filed by a whistleblower for selling 20 drugs manufactured at a contaminated plant in Puerto Rico (since shut down).
Leave to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to have a problem with outcomes like this.
And speaking of government cases against corporate offenders, today “strange bedfellows” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced legislation to “force enforcement agencies to provide more details about deals to resolve corporate misconduct by U.S. companies.”
Now granted, most of their issues are with legal settlements with the financial firms that ruined the economy. Writes Yahoo News:
When the Justice Department announced a $13 billion deal with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in November that included a $2 billion penalty to resolve a civil fraud investigation into flawed mortgage bonds, for example, it did not lay out the specific charges or explain how that penalty was calculated.
It did release a "statement of facts" that described some of the bank's harmful conduct.
"When government agencies reach settlements with companies that break the law, they should disclose the terms of those deals to the public," Warren said in a statement.
"Increased transparency will shut down backroom deal-making and ensure that Congress, citizens and watchdog groups can hold regulatory agencies accountable," she said.…
The bill would require federal agencies to explain whether any portion of a settlement is tax deductible and to publish other details of the agreements, including the claims settled and how payments were classified.
The bill applies to any settlements larger than $1 million.
But between the Chamber's speech and this bill, the poor government just cannot catch a break today!