Todd Lamb: What The President's Jobs Act is Missing

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By Todd D. Lamb

There is an old joke about a boxer who is losing badly to the other fighter in the ring. The losing fighter’s wife is ringside and is -- as luck would have it -- sitting next to a Catholic priest. The woman implores the priest to pray for her husband. The priest shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well, I will do what I can... but it would help if he could punch.”

I am reminded of the priest’s retort, when I read President Obama’s legislative solutions to the jobs crisis we face in this country – the American Jobs Act. While it seems that the Jobs Act is as much a reelection prop as it is a serious legislative effort, one element sorely missing from the bill is tort reform.

President Obama’s bill is targeted toward small businesses, which is absolutely the right target. Small businesses, after all, create the lion’s share of jobs in this country. Regrettably, the President’s bill does nothing to institute common sense tort reform in this country –- which would go a long way toward positive job creation.

Tort reform is needed to help ease the economic strains of nuisance lawsuits on businesses –- both big and small. As we have seen in states like Texas, reform works. Common sense legal reforms create jobs and keep the legal system fair, ensuring that it is used for justice and not greed.

The Texas model –- much in the news these days –- is a great example of what happens when you ease regulation and create a pro-jobs environment by reducing the leverage personal injury lawyers have over the business community.

In 2003, the Texas State Legislature passed reforms the state's civil justice system, which set the table for the successes they are enjoying now. Texas legislators addressed issues such as: limits on noneconomic damages; product liability reform; punitive damages; medical liability reform joint and several liability; and class action reform. The result is an environment where jobs are created and the justice systems works more efficiently (and timely) for those truly injured.

This isn’t complicated. Create an environment where a doctor doesn’t fear getting sued, can afford reasonable liability insurance and voila: people move to your state where -- if you are Texas -- one out of every three jobs in this country is created.

Businesses understand that it is not complicated to know where to (and where not to) relocate their company. Maryland –- unlike Texas -– is near last place in job creation. Little wonder when you see groups like the National Federation for Independent Business and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce playing defense against bills in Annapolis that seem to always be designed to expand one’s ability to sue small businesses.

The President’s critics claim that this jobs bill is simply a campaign tool –- a way of promoting something that Congress will not pass which will provide him with a way of pointing the bony finger of indignation at a “do nothing Congress.”

By not injecting civil liability reform, he gives credence to his critics, and submits a jobs bill that is sorely lacking some punch.

Todd D. Lamb is the executive director for Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, and he is a regular contributor to Center Maryland. He can be reached at .
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