News & Politics

McConnell Wants Next Bailout Bill to Deal With the 'Lawsuit Pandemic' That's Coming

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The United States is the most litigious society in world history and that’s going to be a problem once businesses reopen.

Americans will sue at the drop of a hat. Personal injury lawsuits are settled for an average of $90,000 while product liability awards have gone through the roof. Meanwhile, liability insurance rates have skyrocketed.

Just think of the golden opportunities for personal injury lawyers in the aftermath of this pandemic. Not only will health professionals be sued for the deaths of loved ones, but businesses that open up to the public are going to leave themselves wide open to anyone who gets infected. Maybe they didn’t enforce social distancing to someone’s satisfaction or didn’t take some other precautions against being infected.

Democrats in Congress want the next tranche of coronavirus aid to go to states and cities whose budgets have gone haywire because of the loss of revenue. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants that aid to come with strings. And that could mean some kind of protection for health professionals and businesses against frivolous or unwarranted lawsuits.


“We probably will do another bill. What I’m saying is it won’t just be about money,” McConnell said. “The next pandemic coming will be the lawsuit pandemic in the wake of this one. So we need to prevent that now when we have the opportunity to do it.”

In acknowledging that states like New York and New Jersey can count on more federal aid in the next massive relief bill, the Kentucky Republican is cracking the door to an agreement with congressional Democrats after taking a hard line with his recent suggestion that states go “the bankruptcy route.”

But as befits his reputation for tough tactics, he said that would demand that his liability proposal be included in any deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Similarly, Pelosi has said that any new coronavirus bill will have to include money for local governments.

Getting the Democrats to go along will be no small task. The party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of trial lawyers. In 2018, the trial lawyers PAC, American Association for Justice, gave Democrats $2.3 million. They donated $125,000 to Republicans.

Clearly, it’s going to be a tough negotiation. Congress has repeatedly tried to limit medical liability awards for the past several decades and have had little success. Maybe the prospect of funding for states will bring the two sides together to make a deal.

“I’m open to additional assistance. It’s not just going to be a check, though, you get my point?” McConnell said. “We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.”

Democrats don’t want the crisis to go to waste and want to use their dire straits as a means to have Washington bail them out of their profligacy, mismanagement, and incompetence.

Maybe if state Democrats admit they made mistakes and humbly beg forgiveness, Republicans can see their way clear in financing pensions, reforming taxes, and shoring up budget deficits. But since Democrats never make mistakes, that’s not going to happen.

McConnell knows what hundreds of billions of dollars more in spending means for the long term.

“The fundamental point I was trying to make is that we’re not interested in borrowing money from future generations to help states solve problems that they created themselves,” McConnell said. “The bankruptcy suggestion would have been optional anyway. I wasn’t assuming many of them were going to take that option.”

The younger generations. Remember them? They’re the ones who are going to be saddled with paying down these trillions in debt. Both parties have forgotten their responsibilities to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And why not? They’re not going to be above ground anyway to experience the damage they’re causing today.

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