Yesterday I posted a story about how the financial bailout has turned into a huge boondoggle — a trillion-dollar-plus going-away present from Bush to the large corporations who bought and paid for him.
But that story wasn’t the only example. While we are all distracted by the upcoming election, the mining industry has been quietly lobbying the Bush administration to gut environmental rules that keep them from polluting streams and rivers. When coal mining companies mine for coal by stripping off the tops of mountains, they were previously prohibited from dumping the waste into rivers and creeks. These rules were put in place by the Reagan administration, but I guess Reagan was too much of a tree hugger for the Bushies.
In an even more unbelievable going away present, ProPublica has found out that AIG (one of the largest recipients of federal bailout money) has been lobbying Congress to allow US companies to sell nuclear technologies to India. India never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or the nuclear test ban treaty, and as a result we imposed a ban on selling nuclear technology to them 30 years ago when they first developed nuclear bombs.
As a result, Bush signed a bill this month that allows US companies to sell nuclear technology to India, but without requiring India to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (as has been required of other nations). So while the Bush administration keeps screaming about terrorists getting nuclear weapons, at the same time it is dramatically relaxing safeguards that keep terrorists from getting nuclear weapons.
AIG also lobbied for 20 other bills and a number of other policy matters, spending more than $3 million, employing five lobbying firms and 20 lobbyists. One of the main things that AIG has been lobbying against is a new law that regulates the mortgage industry!
What wraps this around full circle to make it truly ironic is that AIG kept up its lobbying efforts even after the government bailed them out with $120 billion. So the government was using our taxpayer money to bail out AIG so they could turn around and lobby the government — to give nuclear technology to India, without safeguards, and to re-deregulate an industry that failed because of lack of regulation. In fact, since the government now owns 80% of AIG, you could even say that the government was lobbying itself.
Once again, we are screwed.
UPDATE: Time magazine has an article about how government bailout money will be used to give bonuses to investment bankers. Average bonus? $625,000. Says an analyst “Had it not been for the government’s help in refinancing their debt they may not have had the cash to pay bonuses.” Ouch!
UPDATE 2: A NY Times reporter listens in on a supposedly employees-only JPMorgan conference call — Morgan has no intention of loosening up credit (as promised by Paulson in return for our billions). Instead, they are going to use the money to buy up other banks. Plus, a little known feature of the bailout is a huge new tax break that encourages bank mergers. As the reporter says in the article “I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel as if we’ve been sold a bill of goods.”