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“Remember the Alamo” is an old Texas battlecry, but as we head to the polls for this year’s congressional elections, here’s a new battlecry: “Remember Jack Abramoff!”
He’s the disgraced superlobbyist who specialized in wining and dining key congress critters, then getting them to return the favor by delivering tons of our tax dollars to his clients. Jack liked to call the house appropriations committee the “favor factory.” Now, there’s a nice civics lesson for our youth, isn’t it?
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But Abramoff got nailed, pled guilty and is now telling prosecutors which members delivered what for him. In a panic, house Republican leaders suddenly turned “reformers,” rushing out a package of new rules to reel-in the corruption. That was 10 months ago.
When the glare of the cameras moved on to the media’s next issue du jour, the lobbyists and leadership quietly took the reforms into a back room and clubbed them to death. Then, in September, in a cynical attempt to cover their skullduggery with a political fig leaf, the leaders passed the tiniest reform possible. It merely requires that appropriations committee members who “earmark” tax dollars for special interests must now sign their names to the earmark.
Even this fig leaf is shredded with loopholes – it does not apply to the 10 money bills already passed this year, and the rule expires at the end of this session of congress, just a few weeks from now! Still, the Republicans are desperately trying to convince us that they’ve ended the “fog” and “shadows” of corruption by “changing the culture of this institution.”
This is Jim Hightower saying… That’s shabby. Not only are they keeping the culture of corruption intact, but their lie about changing the culture is corrupt. Ironically, the day they passed this fraud of a reform, another of their leaders was arranging guilty pleas on charges of lobbyist corruption. This election year, remember Jack Abramoff!
“At Congress’ ‘favor factory’ revolving door keeps spinning,” USA Today, September 18, 2006.
“The Ghost of Corruption Present,” New York Times, September 18, 2006.
“House acts to reveal ‘earmarks’ in bills,” Seattle Times, September 15, 2006.
“Despite Pledges, Congress Clings To Pet Projects,” New York Times, September 14, 2006.
“House to Require Names on Pet Projects,” New York Times, September 15, 2006.
“When it comes to pork, politicians prefer to pig out in the dark,” Austin American Statesman, September 18, 2006.