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While the differences between George W. Bush and Al Gore may still be coming into focus for many Americans in the final weeks before the election, one is already stark. On tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in America, Bush would return the nation to the failed laissez-faire attitudes of the past. A Gore administration could be expected to continue the course charted by President Clinton, the first truly anti-tobacco President.

Indeed, a Bush administration would solve so many of tobacco's problems that the Texan is virtually one-stop shopping for an industry that has drenched his campaign with cash. For one thing, he'd change the civil justice system. Clinton vetoed tort reform bills, but Bush has made such "reform" a keystone of his proposed social policy and points with pride to his record in Texas--in 1995 he placed draconian restrictions on the right to sue. Bush would help mitigate the fallout from the recent $145 billion verdict in the Engle lawsuit--the Miami class action on behalf of thousands of Floridians sickened by cigarettes--by signing a bill pending in Congress that would send all class actions to federal court. There, Engle would be decertified, downgraded into a handful of individual lawsuits, long before trial by a federal system hostile to tobacco class actions.

As to regulating cigarettes, Bush would likely work with a Republican Congress to enact a "compromise" regulation law, limiting some forms of tobacco marketing and granting toothless federal oversight in return for liability limits and giving tobacco a seat at the table of any regulatory process. Bill Clinton was the first President to make the regulation of tobacco one of his signature policy initiatives. Although the Supreme Court ultimately shot down Food and Drug Administration oversight of cigarettes, Clinton used the bully pulpit of the presidency to put tobacco on the national agenda in a way it had never been before, fulminating against the industry for peddling nicotine to children.

Bush's record indicates he would pay lip service to keeping kids off cigarettes but would put much more energy into vilifying plaintiffs' lawyers for getting rich from lawsuits that attack the industry for targeting children. Bush has pledged to kill off a multibillion-dollar RICO action by the Justice Department that charges that the cigarette companies concealed their product's deadliness, and he would likely rescind or stymie numerous Clinton executive orders, nascent regulations and programs dealing with everything from secondhand smoke to funding research on Big Tobacco's internal documents.

Finally, Bush would be likely to back incursions by domestic cigarette makers into foreign markets. He would be much less disposed to sign on to a proposed World Health Organization treaty on tobacco and health and very prone to weaken it, to the benefit of a global tobacco industry now menacing Asia, and to the detriment of millions of potential new smokers who will become victims of cigarette-related disease.

The Supreme Court once championed antitrust laws as valued tools to limit corporate power and to promote the autonomy, diversity and economic rights of people and firms without power. Not anymore.

So Ford now says the SUV
Is very bad for you and me.
It slurps gas to a fare-thee-well,
And makes the earth as hot as hell.
Its weight means any car it hits

In a small brick house strung year-round with Christmas lights, behind curtains made of flowered sheets, Jeremiah Smith is listening to his favorite preacher on the radio.

Despite all the palaver, the denouement came quickly.

Only a few days before the announcement of the AOL-Time Warner merger, Time Warner chief executive Gerald Levin took part in a CNN discussion on the future of the media.

Research assistance provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's factual findings in United States v. Microsoft, released November 5, spell the doom of Microsoft as we have known it.

The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund provided research support.

On January 11 Joseph Ha, a Nike vice president, sent what he thought was a confidential letter to Cu Thi Hau, Vietnam's highest-ranking labor official.

Blogs

But opposition among Democrats is growing.

December 10, 2014

Walmart claims to be environmentally friendly, but the details tell a different story.

December 3, 2014

Walmart, Dickies, Disney, Sean John Apparel, Sears: Two years after the Tazreen factory fire, these companies and others have still not compensated the victims who died making their clothes.

November 26, 2014

Think you're getting a great deal on Black Friday? You should see how much Walmart is "saving."

November 24, 2014

Can global solidarity between fast-food workers help raise the bar for all of them?

November 19, 2014

A study finds that of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in the US, twenty-nine of them received more compensation than their companies paid in federal income tax.

November 18, 2014

The Electronics Watch coalition has a plan: harness consumer power to hold tech giants accountable.

October 22, 2014

In protests around the country on Thursday, Walmart workers presented a simple demand: full-time work at $15 an hour.

October 17, 2014

What is said off the cuff, even in front of an audience full of women, gives us insight into what women are still up against in the tech industry.

October 13, 2014

From the beginning, the Koch brothers were exploiting troubles at VA hospitals to weaken Obamacare and attack Democrats.

September 23, 2014