Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Preemptive War Against Consumers

Bush Republicans and conservatives, generally, are opposed to a larger, more intrusive federal authority -- right? They prefer 'deferring' decision-making power wherever possible to the fifty states -- right?

Don't kid yourself. Not when it comes to shielding corporations from being held accountable for the injuries they cause to ordinary consumers. "State's rights" and a "smaller federal government" are forgotten when corporate profits become the topic of the day.

This became clear last week when actor Dennis Quaid testified before a committee of the House of Representatives. The burden of Quaid's testimony was to sound the alarm about the Bush administration's surge against consumers.

This war is between the Pencil Heads, now firmly entrenched by the Bush administration in the federal bureaucracy, and American consumers who are cheated or injured by badly designed or negligently manufactured products. Bush's pencil heads are winning, as Peter Yost's superb AP article explains:
Faced with an unfriendly Congress, the Bush administration has found another, quieter way to make it more difficult for consumers to sue businesses over faulty products. It's rewriting the bureaucratic rulebook.

Lawsuit limits have been included in 51 rules proposed or adopted since 2005 by agency bureaucrats governing just about everything Americans use: drugs, cars, railroads, medical devices and food.

Decried by consumer advocates and embraced by industry, the agencies' use of the government's rule-making authority represents the administration's final act in a long-standing drive to shield companies from lawsuits.

Yahoo News has a detailed run-down on all the agency rules that have been put in place to protect corporations that injure or cheat consumers. Hundreds more are coming down the pike.

Just as with the Constitution, the national debt, the economy, the courts, the Middle East, and in the world at large it looks like it will take decades to undo the damage eight years of George W. Bush has caused the nation and its people. Only the corporations and military contractors should be sad to see him go.

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