Originally created 03/03/00

Deflate silicone bill

Clout that the trial lawyers' lobbyists have in Congress can be seen in the so-called Silicone Breast Implant Research and Information Act. As the title suggests, it calls for the government to fund research into illnesses or injuries caused by silicone implants.

It all seems perfectly reasonable -- until you realize that government-sponsored silicone research projects have already been done. The problem is, the conclusion was not what plaintiffs' lawyers wanted to hear: No connection between silicone implants and other diseases.

This is a disaster for the litigation community. The plan was for lawyers to collect millions, even billions, from implant manufacturers and plastic surgeons.

But the impartial breast implant studies have made those payoffs extraordinarily difficult. So what the lawyers decided they need are new, "stacked" studies to discredit the earlier studies.

The bill mandates that government agencies, including the White House and Pentagon get involved in implant issues. It also calls for the formation of a study panel that includes nearly everybody except those who really know something about silicone implants such as the cancer-stricken women who have benefited from them or the aforementioned plastic surgeons and silicone makers.

Finally -- can you believe this? -- the bill calls for taxpayers to fund the "fixed" research. There's no effort at all to mask the fact that the legislation is designed to use hard-earned taxpayer dollars to enrich the coffers of wealthy plaintiffs' lawyers.

No way would such an absurd bill have a chance of passing Congress without the huge campaign contributions lawyers' lobbies make to lawmakers, mostly Democrats.

National Center for Public Policy Research President Amy Ridenour has done an excellent job tracing the lawyers' campaign contributions to Congress' strongest supporters of the bill.

"Recipients of campaign donations often say that their donors support their ideas, not the other way around," reports Ridenour. "To believe that is the situation in this case, however, requires belief that the legislation would naturally attract substantial support without the intervention of well-heeled lobbyists and PACS... Only harsh public scrutiny will force our lawmakers to act in the public interest, not in the interests of their campaign pocketbooks."

If the GOP-led Congress lets this special interest legislation slide through, it will not deserve to be re-elected.


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