Even as anger over governmental corruption has exploded into protests across the Middle East, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been working to weaken the law that bans companies from bribing foreign officials.
That effort, which has been going on for months, recently got ratcheted up when the Chamber hired former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to lobby specifically on “possible amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” according to Mukasey’s lobbying registration document. The FCPA, passed in 1977, prohibits U.S. companies and foreign companies whose securities are traded on U.S. exchanges from paying bribes to foreign officials.
The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, in a report last fall [PDF], said that both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission had become “increasingly aggressive in their reading of the law” within the last decade, bringing more FCPA enforcement actions than ever, netting higher fines and filing more cases against individual company employees.
That’s something the Justice Department has trumpeted as an achievement: “Our FCPA enforcement is stronger than it’s ever been—and getting stronger,” Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s criminal division said at a conference in November. In the 2010 fiscal year, half of all penalties won by his division were from foreign bribery cases. (The Washington Post just yesterday published a rundown of some recent actions.)
Some of the companies included IBM, Halliburton ( of course) and Tyson Foods. One can understand the irony. If you want the powers that be to have less power and ordinary citizens to have more the first thing to recognize is how corrosive money and bribes can be on having truly democratic institutions. If you can manage to keep politics out of the discussion most everyday working class Americans do have the well founded perception that big corporations and wealthy powerful individuals operate under a different set of legal and ethical standards than the rest of us. Americans generally are not in favor of preferential treatment for people.
Florida conservative and tea bagger favorite Rick Scott(R-FL) was not simply well known as for being corrupt, but infamous. He bought his way into office with the uncritical support of the same tea baggers who swore they stood for their own brand of change and hope. They said they stood for the organic originalist brand of patriotism. Rick Scott’s Medicaid Overhaul to Benefit…Rick Scott?
Republican governor Rick Scott’s push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial—not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law.
Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.
And of course Scott, his wife and the Florida Republican Party see no conflict of interests. Scott himself, a tea bagger conservative, sees nothing wrong with using big govmint to further enrich himself. I’m not sure what mom and pop Republicans of Florida were thinking – we’ll vote a criminal into office and maybe he”l stop being a criminal. The Right’s version of a rehabilitation program, that happens to be for one of the biggest thieves in the nation’s history.
Michigan is also suffering along with it’s Republican governor and legislature, Open Letter from a Teacher: ‘I Will Remember, and I Have a Voice’ – Letter from a School Teacher to Michigan’s GOP Legislators
When you place corporate interests above the legitimate needs and concerns of the people in your state, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you choose policies that force thousands of children into poverty (Who, with any sense of morality, can do that?) in order to INCREASE corporate welfare, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you abandon the principle of governance for the common good in favor of showering the elite with more privileges, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you disseminate propaganda rather than fact-based information and seek to manipulate the public rather than to represent them, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you choose to make my vote meaningless and cynically go about the business of disenfranchising Michigan’s citizens in favor of gubernatorial dictatorship, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you gut the public schools, one of the cornerstones of democracy, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you defund and devalue my school district to such an extent that it cannot maintain excellence, I will remember, and I have a voice.
When you take away my right to bargain my own labor, I will remember, and I have a voice.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated state Senate have their own Kafkaesque dreams of big government. They passed a bill that allows “Snyder to declare a local city to be in a financial emergency and appoint an emergency manager. That manager can, without anyone else’s approval, cancel contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, force consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties and, unbelievably, unilaterally remove local elected officials.” Why have local officials and elections if the governor decides, based on their idea of bad management or what the very criteria of what constitutes a fiscal crisis, can tell everyone his appointed goon is going to take over governing any locality. Snyder and Republicans have created a financial crisis for many towns because of the financial decisions they made in the capital. One thing that has worsen the state’s financial problems is the governor’s cut in corporate taxes and increasing taxes on the working poor..