Friable Thoughts

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Who to Believe on the Trust Fund Bill?

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee started plowing through the numerous amendments to the FAIR Act. The Boston Globe reports that the bill has stalled. On the other hand, CBS reports that the pro-fund forces have the momentum.

From reading the stories, I would guess CBS has is closer to the truth right now. They point to the votes today and the statement of the Republican most likely to oppose the bill, Senator Coburn, that he does not oppose the concept of the trust fund, just some of the current details of it.

On the other hand, the Globe quotes anonymous sources and focuses solely on the Democratic side, which ignores the fact that the bill can make it out of committee with none of the Democrats - other than two already supporting the bill. True, the Democrats could (and probably will) filibuster if the bill makes it out of committee but if two Democrats already support the bill, how many more outside of the committee will go along with them? After losing four seats last year, the margin of error is much smaller than it was last year.

For the labor unions and the plaintiff's bar, the great irony may lie in the possibility that the House will not follow the lead of the Senate but may simply adopt a medical criteria bill at the urging of "ultra conservative" former Congressman Dick Armey. Then, as with much legislation in the past five years, any hope of reform will die in conference.