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More going away presents from Bush – why aren’t we screaming?

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.”



  1. Piyush Sethia wrote:

    The implication that selling nuclear technology to India is equivalent to helping the terrorists acquire nuclear weapons is in extremely bad taste. India is not a “rogue” state, and the technology in question will be sold to India irrespective of what Mr Bush thinks, since India has received the waiver from NSG to buy the same.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:14 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I would argue that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is one of our main tools for keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. I was definitely not saying that India itself is a rogue state. I was saying that our willingness to start making exceptions to our policy of not selling nuclear technology to nations that have not signed the treaty is what is dangerous.

    As for the NSG waiver, if stopping nuclear proliferation was important enough, could we not have done something about that? Besides, when did it become acceptable for us to do something just because others are doing it?

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 8:39 am | Permalink
  3. Abhay Agarwal wrote:

    I agree with Sethia. The idea that the India Nuclear Deal bears any relationship to terrorism or nuclear weaponry is completely misguided.

    India’s reason for not signing the NPT is not because it wants to proliferate. Rather, India wants a more comprehensive nuclear disarmament agreement that does not solidify power into those already possessing nuclear technology. India has already proven that it does not want military power through its nuclear weapons, and has agreed to never use its military weapons unless attacked with nuclear weaponry by another country first.

    I think its time we stop conflating civilian and military nuclear technology.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    You might want to stop conflating civilian and military nuclear technology, but it doesn’t work that way. In the early 70’s India secretly developed nuclear weapons using “civilian nuclear technology” from America. That’s history. On what basis should we trust India now?

    The situation was summed up by Senator Byron Dorgan: “We have said to India with this agreement: ‘You can misuse American nuclear technology and secretly develop nuclear weapons.’ That’s what they did. ‘You can test these weapons.’ That’s what they did. And after testing, 10 years later, all will be forgiven.”

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Piyush Sethia wrote:

    Well, I agree there will be both proponents and opponents to the nuclear agreement. But a point to be noted, Bush hasn’t been a generous Santa : to me, it sounds like more of a retirement plan for himself, considering that contracts worth billions of dollars are at stake.

    And yes, India has tested nuclear devices, and it has a programme to develop thourium based reactors, but the agreement between US and India is important on another bigger note : Reduce the world dependence on oil, and cut back global emissions. In terms of the big picture, its not so bad.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

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