Aug. 9, 2003
Bush Puts White House Up for Sale
Statement by Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office
This is a sad day for our democracy. Down the road, President Bush is holding a barbecue for about 350 of his closest friends. But while these executives and corporate lobbyists are chowing down on barbecue and whispering in the president’s ear, average Americans are getting their goose cooked by Bush’s radical agenda.
We’re here today because it’s time to stand up and say enough is enough: Mr. Bush, stop selling us out! These corporate leaders you call Rangers and Pioneers are not opening their wallets and their Rolodexes just because you’re a fun guy to hang out with. They’re not sweating in this hot Texas sun because they felt like getting a tan.
The smartest business people in the United States wouldn’t continue to make contributions if they didn’t see their investments get paid back in preferential policies. They know a good return on their investment when they see one. These CEOs and lobbyists know that the president represents their interests, not those of the American people. Well, we’ve seen what happens when corporations gain too much power: We get Enronned!
We are in the midst of a corporate crime wave of epic proportions. Many, many of America’s largest and most well-known corporations have been caught cooking the books, with the aid of Wall Street, the big accounting firms and our largest banks. And they were allowed to do this by politicians in Washington who are addicted to their corporate political cash. Working Americans have lost literally trillions of dollars in retirement savings and pensions – and often their jobs – because of crime in the suites. It’s time for the corporate crime to stop. But it won’t stop until politicians like George W. Bush stop taking their dirty money – money that wrongly comes out of the pockets of shareholders.
It’s not hard to see what these wealthy executives get from Bush:
- He wants to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Who does that help?
- He wants to shield doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, HMOs and other industries from accountability for wrongdoing. Who does that help?
- He opposes sensible fuel economy standards but wants to drill for oil in the Alaskan wildlife refuge. Who does that help?
- He wants to expand destructive trade agreements that undermine job security and our health and safety standards. Who does that help?
- He sends young Americans to die in the Middle East oil country while Halliburton and Bechtel reap the profits of war. Who does that help?
- He wants to eliminate estate taxes and taxes on investment income. Who does that help?
- He wants to pardon polluters who have broken federal law and increased their emissions without permission. Who does that help?
You can go down the list and see that virtually every one of Bush’s policies help the rich people who are hobnobbing with him today. And what do the people get? We get Enronned.
Bush’s system of employing Rangers and Pioneers to shake down their friends and business associates for cash completely undermines the legal limits that have been placed on campaign contributions. By bundling lots of $2,000 donations, these people gain massive influence. And they get rewarded for it.
Yesterday we launched a new Web site called WhiteHouseForSale.org so Americans can keep track of Bush’s money machine, because the American people need to know they are being sold down the river. This will give them a preview of the extra paybacks that may be coming in the future.
Bush expects to raise an obscene $200 million for a primary campaign, and he doesn’t even have an opponent. It’s not right, and it needs to stop. We need full public financing of presidential elections. And we need it now.
*Note: This statement was delivered at a press conference in Crawford, Texas, as the top Bush re-election campaign fund raisers came to town for a barbecue hosted by the president.