Panetta Critical Of Lawsuit Limits

White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta criticized Republican plans to set federal limits on lawsuit damages, saying Sunday it would usurp authority that belongs to the states.

Panetta said President Clinton “for a long time, has felt that the states ought to have jurisdiction over these issues.”

Panetta, speaking on ABC’s “This Week with David Brinkley,” said Republicans contradicted their dedication to states’ rights in seeking a national uniform set of laws on product liability and limits on the sums awarded to injured people.

“Frankly, I don’t understand the Republicans …. They’re talking about giving the states greater flexibility on welfare, they’re talking about sending school nutrition programs back to the states but when it comes to the laws of this country, particularly the tort laws and protecting consumers they’re willing to have the federal government tell the states what to do,” Panetta said.

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