EMAIL PAGE FOUR
COLUMN SIXTY-SEVEN, JANUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz)
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BEEFS ABOUT A RIGHT-WING GOVERNMENT HE HELPED INSTALL
Nader: Corporate Patriotism
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 07:40:59 -0800 (PST)
From: portsideMod email@example.com
S. corporations aren't even subtle about it. Waving a flag and carrying a big
shovel, corporate interests are scooping up government benefits and taxpayer
money in an unprecedented fashion while the public is preoccupied with the
September 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan. Shamelessly, the Bush
Administration and Congress have taken advantage of the patriotic outpouring to
fulfill the wish lists of their most generous corporate campaign donors. Not
only is the Treasury being raided, but regulations protecting everything from
personal privacy to environmental safeguards are under attack by well-heeled
lobbyists who want to stampede Congress to act while the media and citizens are
a handful in the Congress---members like Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin
and Representatives Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Barbara Lee of California---have
shown the courage to question the giveaways and the quick wipeout of civil
liberties and other citizen protections. In most cases, such as the $15 billion
airline bailout and corporate tax breaks, legislation has been pushed to the
forefront with little or no hearings and only fleeting consideration on the
floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
of the boldest grabs for cash has been by corporations seeking to eliminate the
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which was enacted during the Reagan
Administration to prevent profitable corporations from escaping all tax
liability through various loopholes. Not only do the corporations want relief
from the current year's AMT taxes, but they are seeking a retroactive refund of
all AMT taxes paid since 1986.
giveaway, as passed by the House of Representatives, would make corporations
eligible for $25 billion in tax refunds. Just 14 corporations would receive $6.3
billion of the refund. IBM gets $1.4 billion; General Motors, $833 million;
General Electric $671 million; Daimler-Chrysler $600 million; Chevron-
to join the bailout parade is the nation's insurance industry, which is lobbying
the Congress to have the federal government pick up the tab for future
insurance companies want federal bailouts, but they continue to insist on
regulation only by underfunded, poorly staffed state insurance departments, most
of which are dominated by the industry. Any bailout or loan program involving
the insurance companies must include provisions which ensure that insurance
have been missing in all the bailouts. When the airline companies walked off
with $15 billion plus in bailout money, the thousands of laid-off
employees---airline attendants, maintenance crews, baggage handlers and ticket
counter employees---received not a dime. Attempts to include health benefits and
other help for these employees were shouted down on the floor of the House of
month, more than 400,000 employees lost their jobs nationwide and the national
unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent, the highest level since 1996. The Bureau
of Labor Statistics said roughly a fourth of the lost jobs were the direct
result of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Bailouts, benefits or other aid
for these victims of the attacks? No, that's reserved just for
it is the workers in the low-wage jobs---like those
more workers lose jobs, the Administration is pushing for authority to expand
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under new "fast-track"
authority. The Department of Commerce concedes that at least 360,000 jobs have
been lost under NAFTA, and private research groups estimate the total may be
twice that number. Now, with unemployment rising to alarming levels, the
Administration decides to cave to pro-NAFTA corporate demands which will only
make the labor picture worse. No bailout for laid off workers, just a hard crack
across the knees.
Bill Moyers, the author and national journalist, commented: "They (the
corporations) are counting on your patriotism to distract you from their
plunder. They're counting on you to stand at attention with your hand over your
heart, pledging allegiance to the flag, while they pick your pocket."
present crisis cries out for shared sacrifice---not the opportunism so blatantly
displayed by the nation's corporate interests. President Bush and the Congress
must summon the courage to resist the self-serving demands---the kind of courage
and shared sacrifice that guided the brave rescue workers on September 11.
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