HIGHTOWER: Making Politics Pay

Now let's play: "What's My Connection" -- an exciting new quiz show that links campaign cash to companies that then cash-in on the government! Sound like fun?Today's game features those corporations that each contributed a hundred thousand dollars or more to sponsor the Democratic Convention in Chicago last month. These fun-loving outfits say they were just doing their civic duty. But as you follow the money you'll find that each and every one of these donors is getting millions, even billions, in subsidies, tax loopholes and other favors from Uncle Sugar.Let's play! I'll name the company, then we'll make the connection:Abbot Labs: It's one of the drug companies that enjoy lavish research grants from taxpayers, special subsidies for shipping US pharmaceutical jobs to Puerto Rico and extended patent protections to let them keep overcharging us consumers.Archer Daniels Midland: Also a big Republican giver, ADM gets $300 million a year in subsidies for making ethanol.BankAmerica: It gets quick approval of its anti competitive mega-mergers, as well as deregulation rulings that let its banks jack-up all of their fees and hold-up us customers.Coopers & Lybrand and Ernst & Young: These are two of the accounting giants that just got a "Crooks & Swindlers Act" passed, allowing them to escape liability when their shoddy accounting practices rip you off.Lockheed Martin: The huge Pentagon contractor that literally lives off us taxpayers, including standing in line with hands out for us to pay more than $16 million in bonuses to its top executives.Gosh, we're only half way through the alphabet and out-of-time already. But you get the picture -- it really pays to be a $100,000 player in politics.

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