“Crony capitalism,” Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer writes this week, “is the name of the Republican game.”
Scheer couldn’t be more correct. The headline of the lead business story in September 28th’s Washington Post is a good example: “Hurricanes Give Lobbyists Hope.” The article reports that with Congress dangling as much as two hundred billion dollars in hurricane-related aid, lobbyists for oil companies, airlines and manufacturers are clamoring to get their cut as they work to get regulations waived so oil companies can build (dirty) new refineries which skirt EPA rules and so the airlines can go belly up on their pension obligations.
(For more on predatory profiteering in New Orleans and the Gulf region, read Naomi Klein’s recent searing investigation for The Nation and check out recent Doonesbury strips where the ever-opportunistic Duke is characteristically in tune with the latest political currents.)
The devastating hurricane fallout is also proving to be a windfall for President Bush’s supporters and handlers. GOP-connected companies like Fluor, Bechtel, and, of course, Halliburton, are quickly raking in tens of millions on no-bid contracts. (Presumably no one checked references for these companies’ recent work in Iraq.)
And did you know that some of these corporations are clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush’s campaign manager in 2000, then Bush’s first appointee to head FEMA, then the man to recommend his now-infamous replacement, Michael Brown? Talk about crony appointees!
Allbaugh and Brown are just two of many good examples of why it’s so important to support the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act–introduced to the House on September 27 by Henry Waxman and Nancy Pelosi. “Bush has handed out some of the country’s most difficult and important jobs–leadership positions in public safety and emergency response–to politically well-connected individuals with no experience or qualifications,” Rep. Waxman said. “This common sense legislation will end this practice and ensure that public safety is back in the hands of those who are trained and experienced in protecting the public.” (Click here to play the “Crony or Phony” game for more amusing examples of the president’s crony appointees.)
The bill would require any presidential appointee for a public safety position to have proven, relevant credentials for that position. In addition, the legislation bars from appointment to an agency any individual who has been a lobbyist for an industry subject to the agency’s authority during the preceding two years. Click here to write your elected reps, letting them know that you expect their support for this bill which would go a long way toward draining the crony cesspool in our capitol.