Republicans have talent. It is not easy to do
this much damage to people's lives with a straight
face and that unctuous air of piety.
like the timing, too -- they slipped that Medicare
deform bill through just in time for the drug
companies, the insurance companies and the HMOs
to give loud hosannas around their Thanksgiving
us hear their hymns of praise, paeans, benedictions
and blessings upon the Republican Party rise from
their groaning and appreciative boards forever,
and as for you senior citizens who believed that
amusing little claim that you would all benefit
from this bill -- suckers!
to Public Citizen, pharmaceutical companies have
given $44 million since 1999 -- 78 percent to
Republicans, 22 percent to Democrats -- and have
spent millions more hiring an army of lobbyists
that physically outnumbers the 535 members of
Health Reform Program of Boston University estimates
that of the bill's $400 billion price tag, $139
billion will go to increase drug company profits
over eight years -- a 38 percent increase in what
is already the world's most profitable industry.
forget about the Medicare bill -- it won't take
effect until 2006 anyway, so you won't even notice
what it does 'til then. Regard the even more amazing
case you haven't been keeping up (and you do have
to race to keep up), there is a gasoline additive
called MTBE that has polluted ground water across
the country. So naturally the Republicans have
put in a provision that would limit the liability
of the manufacturers of MTBE -- that means you
can't sue them for ruining the water -- and the
bill would give the companies up to $2 billion
in federal aid.
That means you, the users of MTBE-polluted water
across the nation, will get to pay for cleaning
is an amazing energy bill because it will not
(A) reduce our dependence on foreign oil; (B)
provide significant new energy sources; (C) create
many jobs; (D) improve the grid system so we won't
have more blackouts; (E) promote energy efficiency
or conservation; or (F) do anything about global
-- it will give at least $20 billion in subsides
to fossil fuel companies. Those poor li'l oil,
gas, coal and nuclear companies like Exxon Mobil
and General Electric need our help. This is compassionate
would, of course, tell you who wrote this abomination,
except Dick Cheney, who headed the task force,
doesn't think any of us should know, and the Republicans
who have been working on it for months met in
secret. Democrats were not even admitted to the
environmental groups are still going through it,
finding new horrors hidden away.
reports: "Section 349 would remove the discretion
of the Interior Department to deny applications
to drill amid onshore and offshore lands -- upon
receiving an application to drill in a leased
area, the department would have 10 days to determine
whether additional information is required to
grant a permit. Once the information is provided,
the department must approve the application regardless
of whether drilling would damage the environment."
Natural Resources Defense Council reports that
the bill will roll back environmental protections
to boost oil and gas drilling on American's last
remaining wild lands and open spaces.
also will eliminate consumer protections and subsidize
construction of new nuclear plants that most Americans
don't want, and it will exempt polluters from
laws that ensure clear water and healthy air.
A provision seriously weakening the Clean Air
Act was inserted behind closed doors.
the sin of omission once again outweighs all the
sins of commission, even in this stupefyingly
bad bill, which is on hold for further discussion
until after the Senate's holiday recess.
economy wastes more energy than any other country
-- perhaps as much as half our total energy. This
bill does nothing to encourage energy efficiency
or fuel economy standards.
simplest, cheapest thing we can do about energy
is save it -- but of course if we conserve energy
and make our cars more efficient, that means lower
profits for the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries.
wonder the energy companies have given more than
$71 million in contributions to politicians, over
80 percent to Republicans, since 1999. They're
getting a $20 billion return on that little investment
just in direct subsidies, and there is much more
in the bill in indirect subsidies.
it is time to get serious about fixing this system.
Ivins writes for Creators Syndicate. 5777 W. Century
Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Posted: December 5, 2003