Monday, October 24, 2005

Autoimmune disease in Congress

With bird flu spreading and no vaccine, immunity is the topic of the day. Time for our Congress Things to take action. And they have.

This week they passed legislation providing immunity for gun makers and cheeseburgers.

Congress gave the gun lobby its top legislative priority Thursday, passing a bill that would protect the firearms industry from massive lawsuits brought by crime victims. The White House says President Bush will sign it into law.

The House voted 283-144 to send the bill to the president after supporters, led by the National Rifle Association, proclaimed it vital to protect the industry from being bankrupted by huge jury awards. Opponents, waging a tough battle against growing public support for the legislation, called it proof of the gun lobby’s power over the Republican-controlled Congress.

Under the measure, about 20 pending lawsuits by local governments against the industry would be dismissed. The Senate passed the bill in July. (FreeInternetPress)
Maybe NIH's H5N1 vaccine isn't protective, but at least complete protection is possible someplace. Way to go, Congress Things.

The US House of Representatives easily passed the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" - the Cheeseburger Bill - on a bipartisan 306 to 120 vote on Wednesday.

"Food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers and sellers should not be held liable for injury because a person's consumption of legal, unadulterated food is associated with the person's weight gain or obesity," said the White House in a statement.

As a result, the bill will block in state and federal courts "frivolous lawsuits against the manufacturers, distributors or sellers of food or nonalcoholic beverage products" arising from obesity claims. According to a Gallup Poll, nearly 90 percent of consumers oppose these types of lawsuits. (FoodNavigator)
So if 90% of Americans opposed these suits, it wouldn't seem they would succeed in court, since juries are made up of those same people. Moreover some 18 states already have cheesebuger bills even though they don't have lawsuits:
In Texas for example, House Bill 107 was created to prevent speculative lawsuits against the food industry, which threaten to engulf the sector. The bill's author, Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale, (R-Houston), called it "a preemptive strike on lawsuits against anyone up and down the food chain".
In other words, "Don't even think of suing us. We own the lawmakers."

But this may be a pyrrhic victory because the tactic now is to sue food manufacturers for false and deceptive advertising. This is harder for the fat cats to defend against for two reasons. The first is the obvious one that they do engage in false and deceptive advertising. The second: What are they going to do? Pass a law that says false advertising is OK?

On second thought, they might do exactly that.