Report from the House - America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption

Thursday February 23, 2006

For the first time, this report tries to quantify the damage the Republican Congress and Bush White House have inflicted on our country. Here are a few numbers to consider:

*14.2 million American seniors (including millions of our sickest and most vulnerable seniors) are stuck in a complicated, expensive, and inefficient Medicare prescription drug program because the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration allowed lobbyists from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to design this program.

*60 million American families who heat their homes with natural gas and 8 million families who heat with heating oil are paying higher bills this winter, even though the Republican Congress recently passed their “national energy plan” into law. Although this plan gives the energy industry billions in new tax breaks and subsidies, it doesn’t lower prices for consumers or make our country more energy independent.

*The 150,000 U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq may not have the equipment they need because of waste, fraud and cronyism by the Republican Congress and the Department of Defense. While Halliburton and other companies with Republican connections get their contracts, our soldiers still don’t have the body armor and armored vehicles they need to fight the war.

*750,000 households in the Gulf region are still displaced today, more than 5 months after Hurricane Katrina hit that region, at least in part because the political hacks the Bush Administration put in charge of crucial homeland security functions were not adequately prepared to prepare for or respond to this disaster.

*More than 10 million students and their families will have larger student loans to repay because House Republicans, led by new Majority Leader John Boehner working hand-in-hand with his commercial loan industry allies, cut $12 billion from the student loan program in the recent reconciliation bill and shifted the costs on to students and their families.

These numbers, along with the many others documented in this report, should deeply concern all Americans.

A true culture of corruption has developed under today’s Republican Congress and Republican White House, and the real-life costs it has, and continues to have, for everyday Americans are staggering. The recent, and unprecedented, subversion of our legislative process and federal government is not simply an “inside the beltway” problem. America – all of America – is literally for sale.

Our government is working on behalf of the special interests, not the public interest, and the time for a change is long overdue. Here are few examples taken from different sections of this report showing that Republican politicians have taken care of special interests instead of the American people:

A Confusing and Expensive Medicare Program Millions of American seniors have been forced into a confusing and expensive new Medicare drug program that was not created for them, but for the insurance and drug industries who were given special access to shape this legislation.

An Energy “Strategy” That Saves No Energy While American consumers must live with an energy policy that the Energy Department itself has found will not reduce our high oil and gas prices, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration have rewarded the oil companies with billions of dollars in new tax breaks and subsidies.

Polluters Re-Writing Environmental Laws The quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink has been degraded because energy lobbyists temporarily working in the Bush Administration have undermined some of our country’s most important environmental standards.

A Nation Still Vulnerable to Terrorist Attacks No American citizen can be sure that the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on homeland security projects are making us safer, rather than just making politically-connected defense contractors richer.

A Government Run by Political Hacks Americans have no confidence that their government will be able to adequately respond if a disaster (natural or man-made) strikes their community, because its agencies are staffed not by professionals, but by political cronies and lobbyists like Michael Brown, who botched the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Fat Cats Get Their Defense Contracts, but Soldiers Don’t Get Their Body Armor American soldiers and their families don’t know if they are going to have the body armor and other supplies they need to fight in Iraq, because Members of Congress are instead steering hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contracts for products and services the military often says it does not need and, at the same time, unscrupulous contractors like Halliburton are defrauding the government of millions of dollars.

Drug Companies Get Off the Hook if Their Products Injure Americans While American citizens, public health officials, and first responders worry about how our country would handle the outbreak of a flu pandemic, the Republican Congress recently relieved the pharmaceutical industry of any responsibility for the harm their vaccines or other products might cause during such a crisis.

Corporate Profits Up, American Family Income Down While record numbers of American workers are losing their good-paying jobs as well as their health and pension benefits, large corporations are enjoying new tax breaks and record profits, and are still free to move their corporate organizations overseas to avoid taxes.

Student Loan Debt, Student Loan Industry Profits Both at Record Highs Thanks to the efforts of newly-elected Majority Leader John Boehner, private student loan companies are some of the most profitable companies in America and American students are graduating with record student loan debt.

People need to how the Republicans in Washington have created a culture that breeds corruption and this concern is not just a partisan one. Check out couple of these comments from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in House of Representatives:

“Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, and the ongoing and disgusting saga of abuse of power and public trust are not just made up by the Democrats.” – Representative Mark Edward Souder (R-IN).

“We simply have too much power…We Republicans have abused that power badly over the past several years.” – Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

I urge you to read this report and share it with your family, friends, neighbors who may not be as politically plugged in as you all. They have a right to know that their government is working on behalf of the special interests, not the public interest.

Again, if you have any questions/comments about this report, please let us know by posting your thoughts here. Thanks so much again for the wonderful feedback and support from your wonderful community.

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