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Report From D.C.
There some some good things happening in Washington for Californians...

[John Campbell] 11/3/05

Last time, I reported to you on how dead things were in Sacramento pending the special election November 8th. Such is not the case in Washington.

Certainly, the withdrawal of the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers and the non-indictment of Karl Rove have been big stories. Before any of you give up on President Bush, remember that second terms of Presidents often have such setbacks. Clinton had to deal with Monica Lewinski; Reagan with Iran/Contra; and Nixon with Watergate. Two out of three of those Presidents recovered from their issues. This one will too. In part because the setbacks are coming so early in the second term and in part because the President has surrounded himself with some very smart people. You are not always on offense in politics and just because the other team scores a touchdown doesn't mean you will lose the game.


John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

But lots of other things are going on in DC. One of the interesting phenomena is how the House of Representatives keeps passing good legislation that dies in the Senate. For three years in a row the House has passed legislation to permanently repeal the death tax. The Senate has yet to act on any of those bills. Just this week, a Senate committee killed a bill passed by the House which would have streamlined regulations that stand in the way of building new oil refineries in this country. We have not built a new oil refinery anywhere in the United States in over 30 years. We now have to import not just oil, but refined gasoline because we can't even refine all the oil we have. Price controls are not the answer. More supply is. But this reasonable bill could not get through the Senate.

In the tort reform arena, Congress is moving forward. A bill to relieve firearms manufacturers of liability when a criminal breaks laws using their product was signed by the President this week. How can you hold the manufacturer responsible for a criminal who steals their product and then uses it in a crime? Furthermore, the so-called "Cheeseburger bill" (H.R. 554) is also moving. This would shield people who sell hamburgers (and other foods) from lawsuits alleging that they made people fat. This bill has passed the House overwhelmingly (307-119) and is in the Senate now. And, it has a federal preemption, which means that you cannot bring suit in state or federal court on this issue. That means that the California legislature can't pass legislation to overrule it. Yeah!

One of the few areas where California actually leads the nation in tort reform is on medical liability. Since the 1970s we have had a limit of $250,000 on the amount of punitive damages that may be claimed in a medical malpractice claim. This has kept medical costs in California below most other states for decades. There are proposals in Congress, supported by the President, to expand this as a national law. But the trial lawyers are fighting it hard. Maybe next year.

And finally, it seems that Congress is getting it that they are spending too much money in the budget. Hurricane relief is being tied to spending reductions and there are other spending reductions moving. Still, we need a spending limit at the federal level similar to the one I have proposed at the state level. The temptations and pressures to spend more money are too great without an external limitation to keep legislators from spending everything.

You will next hear from me after the Governor's special election on November 8th when I analyze the results of the election and provide my insight on next year’s happenings. CRO



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