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Fragile Economy, Fragile Justice

“It’s the economy stupid.”  Jim Carville was correct then and correct now.

The economy is the main issue, and its lackluster performance threatens this country in more ways than one.  At the moment, the poor economic data is providing a surge to the Republican contenders for the presidency.  By comparison, President Obama looks weak and unfocused.  Click here for an article on recent polls showing the president is in trouble.  Will he turn it around?

The stakes are high.  The economic climate is killing almost every progressive policy you can think of.  Environmental protection?  Can’t afford it.  Improved schools?  Can’t afford it.  Improved infrastructure, roads, and technology?  Can’t afford it.  What about the arts, space exploration, research and development into alternative fuel sources?  Nope.  No money.

I predict what we will hear early and often in this campaign is that the health care plan is a disaster, too expensive, unconstitutional, and a heavy weight on business.

We will also hear the clarion call for “tort reform.”  The Republicans, clamoring to appease the deep pockets of big business, corporate medicine, and the insurance industry, will claim that limiting Americans’ rights to access the justice system is the best answer to job creation.   They will argue that businesses, big and small, need legal protection in order to create jobs in this economy.  They will seek to eliminate the right to sue big business, cap damages, and otherwise close the courthouse doors to ordinary Americans.  Their data will be lacking, but the message will appeal to uninformed voters who are desperate to believe and do anything to fix the jobs problem.  We are at risk of being duped by a political message lacking data.

If the economy doesn’t improve, or if President Obama fails to persuade the country that his policies, including significant additional government spending and tax incentives, are the only solution that favor America’s workforce, I am concerned our justice system will become a scapegoat.  In the end, only big business and big insurance will profit, while the rest of the country continues to suffer.