January 27, 2006


The scandal is deeper than Abramoff
by Jim Hightower

Forget building a wall on the Mexican border to keep out immigrants — let's build a wall around congress and the White House to keep out lobbyists!

As the sickening stench of sleazeball super lobbyist Jack Abramoff wafts across America, the Republican leaders who control Washington are trying several defenses of their corrupt alliance with these corporate influence peddlers. Incredibly, they first claimed that lobbyists' campaign donations don't influence them — "I can't be bought by a few thousand bucks from Abramoff," they typically declared with puffed up indignity.

Bear in mind though, the Abramoffs bring more than their own money. They collect tens of thousands of dollars from other corporate interests to funnel into a congress critters' pockets — enough to reach the "for sale" threshold of many money-hungry politicos. Notice, for example, that while George W himself ostentatiously gave away $6,000 he had received directly from Abramoff, he quietly held on to more than $100,000 that Jack had collected for him.

Second, the GOP says, well, the Democrats take corporate money, too. Excuse me, but how, exactly, is this supposed to make the stench any more palatable? Besides, the relative levels of payoffs do matter — and the great bulk of K Street lobbying cash goes to Republicans as a result of their own "pay to play" demands.

The worst rationale, however, is the latest claim that, well, we'll paper over the stain of Abramoff's corruption with a show of "reform," tightening up our rules some, but you can't really change the system, so people shouldn't look deeper than this one bit of excess by one guy.

Hogwash. The scandal is not that rules are being broken, but that the rules themselves are scandalous. People can change the corrupt money system — and they're doing it in states and cities all across America. To learn more, call Public Campaign: 202-293-0222.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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