Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How Our Government Workers Rip Off America

Have you ever come across legislation that you find incomprehensible? Ever wondered just how in the heck someone could have voted for a bill that seems, at face value, to be against the interests of the American people? Well, you're not alone. Several citizen oversight groups such as The Project For Government Oversight have been wondering the same thing, and are determined to get to the bottom of it all. Let's give them a few places to start.

As Congress tells the American people that they are reforming Washington, and making it harder for government workers to lobby for the industries they used to work for by instituting a 'cooling off' period of one year, what they failed to make public is that although the new rules state that one can not lobby the office in which they worked for one year, the slicksters conveniently left out any provision for lobbying the office right next door! And they also made a provision for government workers to obtain something called an Ethics Waiver. A what?

It works like this. Say you work for Congressman A. as their health care liaison. You want to go to work for the drug industry as a lobbyist for a lot of money. You leave the Congressman's office, go to K Street, and start lobbying the health care liaison of Congressman B, right next door. According to the pull the wool over everyone's eyes ethics reform, that's perfectly acceptable.

The most liberal media publication in the world, (I'm joking of course), the Wall Street Journal, has itself begun to decry the practice, noting that Tom Sculley, who was the person who wrote the rules on who profits from Medicare and Medicaid services, as the former head of Medicare and Medicaid Services, has just taken a job as the head of lobbyist law firm Alston and Bird LLP's health care division. Who would be in a better position than the person who wrote the rules, to help the firm help their clients obtain lucrative government contracts in the newly privatized Medicare and medicaid areas?

Alston also scooped up Colin Rosky, the Senate Finance Committee's head staffer on the Medicare Bill. And oh, I almost forgot. Bob Dole now works as a paid lobbyist for them too.

The game also catches Congress people in it's snare. Representative Bill Tauzin from Louisiana, a key player in the writing and passing of the new Medicare and Medicaid giveaways to the insurance industry, is reportedly considering a $1 million plus offer from PHRMA, the drug industry's largest lobbying firm.

Many others have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. For instance, ex-CIA station chief Barry Broman was the eyes and ears of our anti-drug efforts in Burma during the 1990's. Today, he does quite well as a $7,500 a month lobbyist for the government of Myanmar/Burma, petitioning the U.S. government to take a friendlier stance towards one of the most brutal regimes in the entire world. One that floods the streets of America with the very same products that Mr. Broman used to guard us against.

Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones Shoved forced through legislation to have California's old voting machines tossed out and successfully pushed for $200 million for all new high tech voting machines. Sounds ok, right? Not when you consider that Jones then left public office and went to work for Sequoia Voting Systems, the largest firm lobbying the then head of California's elections. Not only that, but two people who worked under Jones now work for the same firm.

The same holds true in reverse these days . We've got paid lobbyists in charge of agencies they used to lobby, in the same industry, making up new rules beneficial to that industry, then jumping back out of government after a year or two to go right back to their former positions, or better ones, leaving the American taxpayer holding the bag for even further deregulation. You might recognize the biggest name on the list of the revolving door of robbery. Dick Cheney. When he was running for Vice President with George Bush, he told a bald faced lie, wherein he said he no longer had any connection to Halliburton. That wasn't quite true the Congressional Research Service would find, telling the story of Cheney still receiving up to $1 million dollars per year in remuneration from Halliburton. But even the billions of dollars worth of no bid contracts weren't enough for the boldest mobster ever to sit in the Vice President's chair. In 2004, while on the taxpayer's dime on a trip to China, Cheney lobbied the Chinese to make a deal with Westinghouse for U.S. nuclear power technology. I thought the Communists were evil and had to be stopped at all costs?

There are many other notable public servants that have played the greed game against the interests of the People. Such as Tom Ridge, the former head of the run amok agency known as Homeland Insecurity. Ridge left his post and became a board member of Savi Technology, a maker of RFID chips, and a company being bought by Lockheed Martin. Paid in stock options, Lockheed Martin promised lucrative buy back of the stock. Ridge, of course, has lobbied all his old buddies in government.

This is why the United States is going broke. Inflated costs, middlemen that are not needed, ships being built that have to be scuttled because they don't float, pet projects for the defense industry, insurance companies running Medicare and Medicaid, blatant outsourcing of American jobs with the encouragement of those who are in a position to stop it, deregulation of virtually everything by this criminal cadre in the White House that everyone seems all too willing to give a pass to, the oil scam, the back room deals, and the make believe laws the law makers pass to protect their own. To make sure that the 'appearance' of propriety is maintained, the illusion that everything is above board, when the reality is that right beneath our noses, the fattened pigs wallow in our misery and call us whiners for complaining.

Think anything is going to change come November? Think again. This dysfunction is much too deep, and the only solution is to vote out of office virtually ever Senator, every House member, replace them with honest people, and commit this country to term limits for Congress people. It's because of the entrenchment mentality, and those in Congress who believe themselves impervious to ouster that the corruption continues and intensifies. Think about that when you enter the booth and see the name of the person who is up for re-election. Do a little digging on 'the Google' to see just how corrupt that particular politician really is, then vote accordingly. You might also wish to take a look at which campaign has the most paid lobbyists as advisers or behind the curtain whisperers.
Trust no one. Ask questions. Demand answers. The time has come when Americans must make the choice to either be sheep for the rest of their lives, led around by the nose and lulled into a losing ground by the day lifestyle, or to take control of our dire situation and hold accountable all of those, the government, the corporations, and the media, accountable to We The People.

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