In an earlier post, I noted that John Edwards is once again relying heavily on his fellow trial lawyers to support his Presidential campaign. Assuming Elizabeth "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" Edwards didn't just sink his campaign, let's spend a minute thinking about why the source of Edwards funding matters. I wrote on my blog back in the 2004 election cycle that:
John Edwards has been emphaszing jobs a lot lately, which sounds like a smart move. Skeptics, however, might ask what Edwards' profession - trial lawyer - has done for US jobs. The Manhattan Institute studied the effect of tort litigation on jobs in the asbestos industry and came up with some startling conclusions:
Companies bankrupted by asbestos have slashed an estimated 60,000 jobs, failed to create 128,000 new jobs, and forgone an estimated $10 billion in investment …. The damage will escalateif current estimates of the eventual payout prove accurateto $33 billion in forgone investment and 423,000 jobs not created.
Bruce Bartlett cites similar findings:
Increasingly, the only way companies can cope with rising asbestos liabilities is by declaring bankruptcy. Some 80 companies have already done so. These bankruptcies have cost at least 60,000 jobs, according to a new study by economists Joseph Stiglitz, Jonathan Orszag, and Peter Orszag. Each worker lost $25,000 to $50,000 in wages as the result of these asbestos-related job losses, plus another $8,300 in losses in their 401(k) plans.
Bartlett also cites a study by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin finding that: "At current levels, U.S. tort costs are equivalent to a 5% tax on wages." In contrast, Texas Governor Perry claims tort reform creates jobs: "Texas economist Ray Perryman estimated that our sweeping lawsuit reforms will create more than 240,000 permanent jobs and add $36 billion to the Texas economy."
If John Edwards wants to get serious about job creation, maybe he should get serious about tort reform. But don't hold your breath. As both EdwardsWatch and Overlawyered.com have documented, Edwards' record on tort reform is weak, at best, and he is raking in huge amounts of cash from his fellow trial lawyers.
Over at PB.com, I provide fairly regular coverage of litigation reform issues.
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