HIGHTOWER: Newt's "Thursday Group"

They say change is inevitable -- except from a vending machine. Or, I might add, from Congress.Remember when Newt Gingrich took charge last year -- Rootie Toot, Here Came the Newt, promising to make Washington change its corrupt ways and stop its backroom dealings. Where did that guy go?Into the backrooms, that's where, going fast as his little fat legs would carry him, shouting: "Deal me in, boys!" One particular backroom favored by Newt is number 227 in the Capitol, occupied by something called The Thursday Group. This is not a group of House Members, but of eight advisors, hand-picked by Newt, who literally help write his legislative agenda, and then provide the lobbying muscle to shove it through the House. It meets at least weekly, often daily, with the Republican leadership team -- indeed, the Thursday Group is a member of the leadership team, wielding unique, unbelievable power over national policy.Who are they? Such corporate organizations as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Wholesalers and the National Restaurant Association. Oh, and here's one called Citizens for a Sound Economy."Hey", you say, "I'm a citizen and I'm for a sound economy, maybe this outfit speaks for me." Sure, Bucko, like Col. Sanders speaks for chickens. These "citizens" are Citibank, Chevron, Philip Morris, General Motors and dozens of other major corporations, including such foreign "citizens" as Toyota, Sony, British Petroleum and BMW.Not only does this select group of very special interests write anti-consumer, anti-environmental, anti-worker laws that put profits in their pockets at our expense, but they also are political fund-raisers for Newt and his Republican majority -- they scratch him where he itches, he scratches them where they itch.Newt Gingrich doesn't represent business as usual...he represents Business more than usual.

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