Now Corporate America is gearing up to win three big prizes: caps on medical malpractice damages, which business believes will lower health-care costs; a move to make class actions less expensive to defend; and a business-funded global settlement to compensate workers and others harmed by asbestos. "With the renewed focus of the Bush Administration, we could have a lot of success," says Sherman Joyce, president of American Tort Reform Assn.
Reformers are so optimistic that they hope to wrap up a measure on class actions before Inauguration Day. The legislation, long stalled in the Senate, would move many multi-state class actions to federal courts, making them easier for business to defend. Supporters had enough Democratic votes to break a filibuster earlier this year, but business -- and the GOP leadership -- dropped the ball. Now they think they can tack the measure on to an omnibus spending bill during November's lame-duck session of Congress.
It would be nice to see Bush move on a campaign promise and it would be sound policy. But best of all it might put John Edwards out of his fallback job.