Did you notice during the last election that liberals couldn't quite
remember exactly what made Bush Senior, and the entire Republican machine,
so odious? How we couldn't quite come up with examples for the Naderites
to prove that, yes, there really are important differences between the
parties? Let's not let that happen again!
Here are a few of the actions taken by the Bush Jr. administration that show it
to be the most pro-corporatist, greedy, deceitful, pro-rich and anti-environmental
administration in history. It's not comprehensive, but it might help us
remember in 2004 that there is a difference, even between the two major
parties. OK, here we go.
Steal from the Poor, Give to the Rich
1. Corporate Greed and Theft
Bush and Cheney are not just allowing corporate theft and crime to
continue. THEY ARE CORPORATE CRIMINALS THEMSELVES. (See "Enrongate",
- Bush's primary theme in his July, 2002, speeches about corporate
reform has been "moral responsibility" - "ethical behavior" and "integrity"
(See NY Times, July 10, 2002, C1) This is a code word for
no regulations! Is it any wonder his "major speech" o the subject
was "widely praised" by CEOs? When Bush talks about personal morality
instead of government rules, he is getting himself off the hook and blaming
corporate misdeeds not on a permissive structure that allows them but,
you guessed it, on "evildoers."
- His meagre proposals were limited to increasing SEC budgets, increasing
jail time for fraud (but not expanding how fraud can be proven, so none
of the Enron criminals would be affected), and "calling on stock markets"
to require shareholder approval (which means government doing nothing).
In other words, Bush's proposal would do absolutely nothing to affect the
- SEC Chairman Richard Grasso estimates that there are "1 to 15" corporations
that are guilty of fraud and deceit. Amazing that five of that club
-- Enron, Halliburton, Andersen, KMPG, and Merrill Lynch -- have direct
ties to the Bush administration. (Frank Rich, All the President's
Enrons, NY Times, July 6, 2002, at A13) Some examples: Thomas
White, VP of Enron Energy Services when it hid $500mil in losses and caused
the California energy crisis - Secreatary of the Army. Alberto Gonzales,
partner in Enron's law firm: White House counsel.
- Bush himself is an Insider Trader. While the tabloids focus
on Martha Stewart, Bush sold thousands of shares in Harken Energy (where
he was a director) just before it tanked, and was eight months late on
filing his disclosures of those sales! (NY Times, July 6, 2002, A13)
- Bush also received huge loans from corporations of which he was a
director - a type of loan he now recommends outlawing because of the potential
- Dick Cheney's Halliburton is also being investigated by the SEC,
with Cheney personally under suspicion for Enron-like accounting practices.
2. The Bush Income Tax Cut
40% of Bush's tax cut goes to the richest 1% of families. The
$1.35 trillion tax cut has already erased the budget surplus and further
increases in spending (such as Bush's $18 billion more for defense) will
have to come from the Social Security surplus.
(Treasury Department tables, reproduced in NY Times, Mar 01)
Now we're already back into deficit, and this before the war expenses came
3. The Estate Tax Repeal
The Estate Tax taxes inheritances over $750,000. Bush & the
GOP Congress repealed the estate tax, thus depriving the government of
millions in revenue in the most regressive way possible. The rhetoric
was that the estate tax hurt 'family farms' and so on, but no exemption
was proposed for such entities; instead, the entire thing was repealed.
Then, in a twist, the full repeal was postponed for ten years -- so the
impact of it wouldn't appear on any budget forecasts. Here
are facts about the estate tax and the cost of its repeal. Talk
about 'fuzzy math'...
4. The "Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill"
The Bush folks told corporate lobbyists back in January, 2001, "Just
you wait." Now, in November 2001, the wait seems to be over.
No one paid much attention to this "Emergency Economic Stimulus," but here
are some of the choice features of the new round of tax break (courtesy
NY Times, Oct 27, 01, at C1) passed by the House:
- 64% goes to corporations, 32% to individuals. (And of the individuals,
19% is "upper income", 13% lower and mid income.)
- $25 billion is tax rebates to large corporations: $1.4bil to IBM,
$781mil to GE, for example. These companies are doing quite well
notwithstanding September 11.
- A repeal of the Corporate Minimum Tax, which ensures businesses can't
use loopholes to pay no tax at all.
- A potpourri of other corporate tax breaks, again, skewed to the largest,
5. Bush's junior appointments are destroying regulations that
affect big business
All this from Stephen Labaton, Bush is Putting Team in Place fora
Full-Bore Assault on Regulation (NY Times, May 23, 2001, at D1).
- The new head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission has
a decade-long track record of voting against proposed safety rules.
She has criticized the commission for creating a 'federal nanny state.'
- The new head of the Federal Trade Commission has said that the Clinton
administration restricted too many big corporate mergers.
- John D. Graham, the new head of Bush's budget review process, is
a Harvard professor whose studies on risk said that many environmental
regulations (including limits on dioxin) have costs that outweigh the benefits.
The 'costs', of course, are borne almost entirely by industry; the 'benefits'
by people who don't get cancer.
- Michael Powell, the new chair of the FCC, has opposed every action
to limit the size and scope of cable and phone companies.
- Two of the three new service secretaries in the Defense Department
come from military contractors.
6. Campaign Finance Reform is not really a bipartisan issue,
and the Republicans get much more corporate $ than Democrats
People identify campaign finance reform with John McCain, and he deserves
a lot of the credit. But in the February 14, 2002, House vote on
the Shays-Meehan bill, which would eliminate soft money, the vote was 240-189,
with 198 out of 210 Democrats in favor, and 176 out of 217 Republicans
opposed. Is this really bipartisan? It shouldn't be surprising
tha it's this way. Compare these stats (from Common Cause, and the
NY Times, Feb. 15, 2002)
"Hard Money":Republicans, 132.3 million - Democrats 54.6mil
"Soft Money": Republicans, 87.8 million - Democrats 61.9mil
The Republicans win elections because Big Business buys them!
What did the Enron bosses do?
- Embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars in phony partnerships which
siphoned money from Enron to their own personal bank accounts.
- Sold stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars while telling everybody
the company was getting better & better. Meanwhile, Enron employees
couldn't sell the Enron stock in their retirement plans.
- Knowingly overinflated revenue numbers, lied to analysts, and covered
up all evidence of the wrongdoing until the company tanked. Meanwhile,
individual investors got soaked because of the misleading information.
What does it have to do with Bush & the Republicans?
- Enron=The Bush Administration. Enron is one of the largest
corporate contributors of Bush & the Republicans. But that understates
it. Really, they are the same people - rich Texas oilmen who run
the GOP. One of Enron's former chief lobbyists is now Secretary of
the Army! Ken Lay hand-picked the head of the government agency that
regulates Enron's business.
- Enron executives repeatedly met with Cheney, Bush, Treasury Secretary
Paul O'Neill, and countless White House aides in the final months of the
company's existence. What did they talk about? We don't know.
- Bush and Cheney have repeatedly lied about their Enron contacts.
Bush said he only got to know Ken Lay in 1994; actually, it was at least
1992. He said Enron supported Ann Richards; actually, they supported
Bush. (NY Times, Jan. 19, 2002, at A19) Cheney's spokespeople
said Enron got "not one thing" from the energy plan, but actually they
got billions of dollars in tax breaks, incentives, and 'investment', not
to mention $254 million in corporate tax "rebates" from the Bush "stimulus"
plan -- even though Enron hadn't paid any taxes at ALL in the last five
- Enron executives (the same guys who stole millions of dollars) were
on Cheney's "Energy Task Force." Now Cheney won't release the records
of what they talked about. Why not? Maybe because Enron basically
White House 'Energy Plan'?
- Kenneth Lay and other Enron execs are best friends with Bush.
Are we really supposed to believe he knew nothing of any of Enron's
shenanigans? Does he bear no responsibility? Why won't
he even return Enron's campaign contributions?
- Some people say this is a bipartisan scandal, but that's like comparing
a pothead to a smack addict. The Democrats also took Enron money,
but in trivial amounts compared with Republican leaders. Enron and
the Bush/Cheney oil crowd -- the SAME PEOPLE.
Where's the special prosecutor to investigate the theft of billions
dollars? Nowhere. We're too busy chasing the "American Taliban."
Ask ex-Enron employees, who are now left with nothing in their retirement
accounts, if they care about that guy. Compare this:
Whitewater - Clintons lost about $50,000 due to 2 land deals with shady
characters. $30,000,000 taxpayer dollars to investigate.
Enron - Bush's best friends stole hundreds of millions of dollars in
a cascade of ponzi schemes, while defrauding thousands of investors and
employees out of their life savings. No special prosecutor, no independent
8. Farm Subsidies
Not many people think of farm subsidies as corporate welfare, but they
are. Most US farm subsidies go to a dozen huge corporations.
The Republicans have refused, time and again, to limit the size of recipients
of farm subsidies, which would exclude the big conglomerates and help family
farmers. At the same time, the Bush Administration's massive increase
in farm subsidies hurt ordinary farmers worldwide. (NY Times, June
15, 2002, at A3) Poor countries can't afford to prop up their farmers
like the U.S. can, which means the price of U.S. corn, soybeans, etc.,
stays artificially lower than other countries'. So, if you're some
farmer in Guyana, your grain can cost three times as much as grain shipped
in from Missouri -- because the Missouri guy (actually a huge corporation)
is on massive government welfare. How are you supposed to sell your
goods and survive?
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