Jim Hightower: It's Holiday Shopping Season for Lobbyists Too [VIDEO]

'Tis the shopping season, and many bedraggled consumers are going store to store seeking gifts for loved ones. But the most determined shoppers of all this season are corporate lobbyists, scurrying from agency to agency in Washington in search of special favors for themselves. They're not interested in giving, but in getting.

Indeed, they've already given. They put tens of millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of George W and the GOP, and they've enjoyed big-time payback for seven years. But time is running out - Republicans lost control of congress, and Bush is soon to go, so corporate lobbyists are now on a frantic, last-minute shopping spree, grabbing all they can, while they can.

Their shopping list is filled with requests for the Bushites to rig regulatory rules to benefit their industries. Coal barons, for example, are pleading for permission to dump tons of rubble and waste into the valleys and streams of Appalachia. This "spoil," as they call it, is the by-product of an environmentally- devastating mining shortcut called mountaintop removal. To get at the coal, they blow up the top third of these beautiful mountains. Rather than hauling off their rubble, they want final OK simply to shove it down the mountainside, burying the streams, animals, and everything else below.

On other fronts, such chicken potentates as Perdue want an exemption from public health laws that ban massive releases of ammonia from their factory farms; electric power plants want to increase their toxic emissions without the "burden" of installing pollution controls; and big business lobbyists are demanding new rules to keep workers from using family leave laws, which allow unpaid time-off to care for newborns or deal with family illness.

This is Jim Hightower saying... These truly are gifts that would keep on giving - giving profit to the few, and pain to the many.


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