3/10/2005

Bankruptcy Bill: The Plot Thickens

NOTE TO CORPORATE MEDIA HACKS: You people could report this stuff too. It's not that hard to find.

From the awesome Ward Harkavy at the Village Voice:
As Stephen Labaton of the New York Times reported this morning, the Senate assured final passage of the first major overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws in 27 years on Tuesday, when it took two votes that cleared the remaining political obstacles to a measure that the nation's credit and retail industries have sought for years. The bill would disqualify many families from taking advantage of the more generous provisions of the current bankruptcy code that permit them to extinguish their debts for a "fresh start." It would also impose significant new costs on those seeking bankruptcy protection and give lenders and businesses new legal tools for recovering debts.
This was an especially sweet victory for the U.S. CEO, Dick Cheney. Halliburton, which Cheney burdened with billions of dollars of asbestos lawsuits by acquiring Dresser Industries when he was the oil firm's CEO, recently concluded its escape from that thunderous debt by using corporate-friendly bankruptcy laws. Despite being flush with billions of dollars from Iraq contracts and other government work, Halliburton units were able to plead bankruptcy to shift that debt and reach an insurance settlement that netted more than $1 billion.
With the passage of the historic bankruptcy legislation almost complete, ordinary Americans will find it much more difficult to use bankruptcy maneuvers to escape from their own crushing debts.
Halliburton's slick maneuvering regarding its asbestos liabilities wound up savaging the pensions of the employees of the company it acquired.

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