The Specter of legal plunder

The SE Texas Record Jul. 24, 2010, 5:37am

The aptly surnamed Arlen Specter is trying once again to bestow a generous tax break on the plaintiff's attorneys who comprise a significant portion of his and his fellow Democrats' contributor base.

The efforts of the shifty U.S. senator from Pennsylvania are opposed, once again, by Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas' stalwart representative from San Antonio.

But the opposition of Smith and like-minded colleagues must be strengthened if, as rumored, the Obama Administration decides to bypass Congress and use the Treasury Department to grease the "rich lawyer" tax break instead.

Word that such a scheme is afoot leaked out at the recent annual convention of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), a trial lawyers group that celebrates its members' legal attacks on the engines of industry.

According to AAJ lobbyists, they are close to convincing the U.S. Treasury department to issue an administrative ruling that lets plaintiff's lawyers write-off the expenses they initially incur-- but for which they later can be reimbursed-- in pursuing asbestos and class action lawsuits.

With Specter's help, the AAJ tried to slip the change through Congress last year, but demurred when word got out to the public.

Passing a tax break for trial lawyers during a recession didn't prove very popular. By appealing to President Obama-appointed Treasury officials instead, Specter and the trial lawyers are trying to bypass the people's approval.

"It is a shameless attempt to curry favor with their supporters at a time in which all of the talk from the Administration and Congressional majority has been about the need to end unjust tax breaks for the wealthy," charges Roger Borgelt, chairman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas.

Borgelt warns that "high-profile, high-dollar Democrat party supporters" will use this tax break "to support lawsuits that would otherwise not be filed, further enriching themselves."

Greater prosperity for certain class action lawyers will come at a high cost to the rest of us if they are allowed to accelerate their efforts to go after legitimate American businesses, to plunder corporate profits, to fleece shareholders and to idle more workers.

Like some other so-called stimulus plans, this one benefits only a small group of wealthy Democratic cronies at the expense of hardworking taxpayers.

If someone wanted to exacerbate the problems of our struggling economy, he'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better plan than the subsidization of certain members of a profession whose sole motivation seems to be to sap the life out of productive enterprises.

Here in Southeast Texas, we've seen what happens when unscrupulous individuals are given free rein to sack and pillage.

Kudos to Rep. Smith in his opposition to Specter's plan, and may he find additional public support here in his fight against the Obama Administration tax cut plan for fatcat lawyers.

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Organizations in this Story

American Association for Justice
777 6th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001

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