Nevada's congressional Republicans--Gibbons, Porter and the state's Other Senator--voted for the bill to herd class action suits into federal courts where a Republican judge can kill them. It's the first movement in a suite of legislation the Strong Leader is proposing to keep mean and powerful citizens from roughing up poor put-upon corporations. A dozen Democrats in the Senate voted for the legislation, too, demonstrating yet again that the Great and Powerful Harry Reid can't hold his caucus together for shit.
So Bush gets the first big win of his first term as an elected federal official.
Next up: bankruptcy "reform."
Nevada typically sports personal bankruptcy rates that are among the highest in the nation. The American Bankruptcy Institute reports that one out of every 43 households in Nevada filed for bankruptcy, the fourth-highest rate in the country.
Gambling, you say? Professors commissioned by the Congressional Budget Office will back you up. The casino industry points to studies of its own, some uncharacteristically not funded by the casino industry, that say there's no connection between gambling, er, gaming and bankruptcy. Conditioned, stimulus-response-fashion, to believe that whenever the casino industry renders an assertion on an issue of public policy, the opposite is true, the Gleaner believes that gambling causes bankruptcy.
But it's not the biggest cause of bankruptcy. A Harvard report released this month found about half of the personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. were caused by health care costs. And most of the folks filing actually had health insurance--a fact that would seem counter-intuitive until you remember that health insurance companies are in business to collect your money, not pay for your health care.
With the insured getting hammered into bankruptcy by medical bills, imagine what those bills do to the uninsured.
Nevada typically posts some of the highest percentages of uninsured people in the nation. A state legislative working group received data last year estimating that as much as 23 percent of Nevada's non-elderly population was without health insurance, compared to about 17 percent for the rest of the nation. Earlier reports publicized by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada have found the state tied with New Mexico for having the fourth-highest rate of uninsured folks in the nation.
So, to recap: Health care bills account for half the bankruptcies in the country. Nevada has one of the highest proportions of people without health care coverage in the country. Nevada has one of the highest personal bankruptcy rates in the country. Bush and the Republicans, at the behest of credit card companies who doled out money for, among other things, health care bills that insurers won't pay, want to gut bankruptcy laws so that middle-class people can't get the "fresh start" that bankruptcy laws were designed to provide.
Former Nevada Democratic Sen. Richard Bryan saw the threat of pro-corporate anti-consumer bankruptcy legislation, and used his perch on the Senate Banking Committee to fight the legislation tooth and nail. Surely, no current Nevada member of Congress could support legislation that will assuredly hurt Nevadans as much if not more than anybody in the country?
OK, Nevada's Republicans in Congress support the bankruptcy bill. But then, "Republicans support legislation favoring corporations over consumers" isn't exactly the headline equivalent of man bites dog.
"Democratic Senate Leader supports credit card companies over consumers" is. And sadly, 'tis true. The Great and Powerful Harry Reid, rather than fighting the corporate-sponsored legislation, turns out to be smooching a touch of corporate bum when it comes to rolling back bankruptcy protections. And as explained in a Bloomberg piece, the corporations are just wild about Harry:
``The election outcome has brightened the prospects for bankruptcy reform,'' said Rick Lazio, a former U.S. representative from New York who is now executive vice president for global government relations at JPMorgan.
Republicans gained four Senate seats in the election, giving them 55 out of 100; three former House Republican lawmakers who won Senate seats -- John Thune of South Dakota, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Richard Burr of North Carolina -- voted in favor of the bill in the past. In addition, a long-time supporter of the legislation, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, was elected Senate Democratic leader; New York-based Citigroup Inc. has a credit-card processing center in his home state.
No wonder his errant colleagues did not feel duty-bound to stick with Harry and fight Bush on the class-action bill.
The prospect of Reid leading the Senate has always been more than a little unnerving. Ideologically vacant on the one hand, while fancying himself the consummate behind-the-scenes deal-maker on the other, there's that nagging fear that he'll strike the Big Political Deal wherein the nation gets Chief Justice Scalia and privatized Social Security in exchange for a bigger minority committee staff budget. So who knows what he's playing, or what he played at in some prior point in his illustrious career, that cornered him into the position of supporting legislation liable to hurt Nevada more than just about any other state in the nation. It's more than curious; it's spooky. And from the standpoint of serving his constituents, it's, well, bankrupt.