Thursday, September 15


The dastardly cynical opportunism of these people knows no bounds. Republicans, in the words of Congressman Rahm Emanuel (R-IL), are trying to "achieve ideological objectives they haven't been able to get in the normal legislative process." Shades of Iraq, where former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer waved his pen and gave the country that darling of the conservatives, the flat tax. As for other similarities to their performance in Iraq, I expect we'll eventually hear of billions of reconstruction dollars handed to Bush crony companies simply "disappearing" with no penalties for the companies who can't account for the lost funds.

If they're successful in creating the kind of top-down society they want along the Gulf Coast, look for them to exploit more disasters for their experiments in social regression. As of now, they control all three branches of the government. Who's going to stop them from doing whatever the hell they want?

Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.

Some new measures are already taking shape. In the past week, the Bush administration has suspended some union-friendly rules that require federal contractors pay prevailing wages, moved to ease tariffs on Canadian lumber, and allowed more foreign sugar imports to calm rising sugar prices. Just yesterday, it waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region.

Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction.
Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R., Kan.) said that the plans under development "are all part of a philosophy of lowering costs for doing business."
[editor's note: code for "increasing corporate profits"
Republicans, meanwhile, say they will also press for a new round of energy concessions, including incentives to rebuild and expand offshore drilling and clear the way for new refineries that were dropped from a 500-page energy bill that passed last month.


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