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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

Bill Clinton Tried to Block Israel’s Taxing Newly-Found Gas

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Former Bill Clinton, the man who unwittingly carried out his promise for a “New Middle East,” worked as a paid lobbyist to pressure Israel against increasing taxes on natural gas from huge off-shore energy fields, former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed.

Clinton’s wealth is estimated at well over $55 million, making him the richest living president, but no one knows better than him that “enough is never enough,” especially when it comes to “helping” Israel.

One of his most famous “accomplishments” as president was to engineer the signing of the Oslo Accords, with a grinning Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin at his side on the White House lawn. Clinton promised a “new Middle East,” and we got one when the Oslo Accords literally exploded in Israel’s face in 2002.

Clinton has not given up his version of helping Israel while making pocket money to boot.

Israel has the wonderful problem of figuring out how much to tax the gigantic natural gas pumped from discoveries off the Mediterranean Coast. The energy fields will bring billions of dollars in profits for energy companies, and the government wants a share of the natural wealth.

As Finance Minister, Steinitz proposed raising taxes on companies that developed the natural resources. The energy firms still would be left with envious profits but wanted to stop the tax hike, a reasonable objective for any company.

Clinton’s agreement to be its front-man raises serious questions about the ethics of a former president lobbying a foreign country.

“Pressure [against the tax hike] began from the White House,” Steinitz told the Hebrew language Maariv newspaper.

“The energy companies hired American lobbyists, including former President Bill Clinton, who sent letters and had discussions to dismantle the Shashinsky Commission,” which examined the natural gas issue, “and to stop the tax law.”

“Members of the U.S. Congress asked me for clarifications,” Steinitz said. “We began to feel a sense of pressure, as if we were doing something impeachable to commercial ties between the two countries. I tried to explain that we are among the countries earning the lowest rates from natural gas and petrol, that we get nothing and that the citizens of Israel have as much moral right to profit from public resources as do private companies.”

The Shashinsky recommendations for a tax increase in November 2010, and the pressure decreased, apparently under orders of President Barack Obama.

No one has accused Clinton of doing anything illegal, but the ethics of the former president’s polices and accumulation of wealth following his terms of office deserve examination.

“Between 1997 and 2003 …You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal. …Looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton,” said Charles Ferguson, whose documentary film Inside Job in 2010 won an Academy Award.

Clinton certainly did not have to lobby against Israel for lack of money.

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then,” Clinton has said in an understatement that would be laughable if not true.

“Reasonably well?” Let’s check.

As a lame duck president in December 2000, Clinton signed into law the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which ensured that derivatives could not be regulated. Two months later, shortly after leaving the White House, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley for a speech Clinton he delivered to the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, according to the NakedCapitalism.com website.

“It’s not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects,” the site added.

If Clinton was only somewhat rich man before becoming president, he has more than made up for lost change.

In the decade after the end of his second term, he pocketed nearly $10 million for speaking fees. That comes out to a lot more than his hourly wage as president.

And who paid for the privilege of hearing his wisdom?

Citigroup: $250,000; Deutsche Bank, $150,000; Goldman Sachs, $300,000 for two speeches, and that is only three coins in the fountain.

Government Money

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Time and time again, the liberal defenders of government power have attacked any call for reform as a plot by the wealthy. Even now New York Times editorialists pound their keys about the “Concentration of Wealth,” invoking presidents from Andrew Jackson to Theodore Roosevelt. But in our America, the “Concentration of Wealth” is not found in the hands of a few billionaires. It is found in the hands of the government.

The editorialists talk about the income gap and how much wealth is held by the top one percent of the country, but they are leaving something out. Their statistics deal with individuals, not institutions. And it is institutions which threaten our liberties, not individuals.

The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. That sounds like a lot of money, until you look at annual Federal budgets which run into the trillions of dollars, and the country’s national debt which approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that’s not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.

As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.

While liberal pundits pop on their stovepipe hats, fix their diamond stickpins and cravats, and trade in 19th century rhetoric about the dangers of trusts and monopolies– the power in 20th century America lies not in the hands of a few industrialists, but with massive monopolistic trust of government, and its network of unions, non-profits, lobbyists and PAC’s. The railroads are broken up, offshore drilling is banned, coal mining is in trouble and Ma Bell has a thousand quarreling stepchildren– now government is the real big business. How big?

The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that’s not counting another half a billion from the 527′s and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. But that’s a small investment when you realize that they were spending billions of dollars to get their hands on trillions of dollars.

Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.

There is only one such company. It’s called the United States Government.

It wasn’t always this way. There used to be limitations on executive and legislative power. But those limitations are gone along with the top hat and the diamond stickpin. Under an ideological cloak of darkness, politicians act as if they can do anything they want. Public outrage is met with alarmist news stories about the dangers of violence, as if this were the reign of the Bourbon kings,  not a democratic republic whose right of protest is as sacrosanct as its flag and its seal. Instead the republic is dominated by political trusts, party machines, media cartels, public sector unions and a million vermin who have sucked the cow dry and are starting in on its tender meat.

Jack Abramoff: Americans Believe The System Is Rigged Against Them

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

In 2005 and 2006, Jack Abramoff’s name was all over the news – for the wrong reasons. A high-powered Capitol Hill lobbyist – and an Orthodox Jew to boot – Abramoff found himself at the center of a federal corruption investigation that ultimately landed him in jail. Among other things, Abramoff was accused of conspiracy, bribery, tax evasion, and attempting to defraud his clients of tens of millions of dollars.

Today, Abramoff is a free man. Out of prison since 2010, Abramoff today is committed to reforming the lobbying industry that he helped tarnish. In 2011, he wrote Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. The Jewish Press recently caught up with him.

The Jewish Press: What is Jack Abramoff doing today?

Abramoff: I have my own radio show Sundays evenings on XM radio, and I travel the country speaking about politics, what goes on in Washington, and my past.

I’m working on a book on gridlock in Washington. I’m also working on television programming on the lobbying business and am trying to move forward some motion picture projects – I used to be a movie producer. One film is sort of like “Lord of the Rings” and another one is an animated feature similar to “Shrek.” Both of them have biblical backgrounds and undertones.

Finally, I’m working on efforts to reform the political system and helping other good causes as well.

What’s wrong with the system as it’s currently constituted?

The system is basically set up in a way that people who come in with money can buy outcomes. I’m working with reform groups – groups I used to oppose – to come up with some solutions to solve this problem.

How do people “buy outcomes”?

By giving politicians campaign contributions, taking them out to dinner, taking them to a ballgame, etc. If I’m asking you to do something for me for money, that’s bribery – even if it’s [often] legal. Ninety-nine percent of what I did as a lobbyist was legal. It was only one percent, or even less, where I went over any legal line.

Your lobbying firm reportedly spent a million dollars a year buying congressmen tickets to various sporting events. Is this common practice in Washington?

No, I did things bigger than most people. But whether you’re giving away six tickets or 60 tickets, the essence is the same.

You have publicly stated that you were morally blind as a lobbyist. How do you account for that blindness?

I didn’t take the time to sit down and analyze the system. I just jumped in. I was into winning the fights I was in, and I felt the ends justified the means, so I went off track.

Incidentally, most people in the system today don’t consider it immoral. Most congressmen who take these contributions don’t feel they’re being bribed.

What goes through a congressman’s head when a lobbyist buys him a ticket to a sports game? Doesn’t he know the ticket comes with strings attached?

They think I’m their friend, and I thought I was their friend too. In other words, I was just taking my friend out. So, my friend happens to be a congressman and I happen to be asking my friend to help me out with something. Their attitude would be, “Well, if [the favor] is not something I would normally object to, what’s the problem?”

You think to yourself, “I’m his friend and I would do this anyway.” There are all sorts of excuses you come up with to convince yourself it’s not a bad thing. In fact, you [tell yourself], it’s a good thing because you’re going after worthy goals that would otherwise not happen if it weren’t for your relationship with this congressman.

What worthy goals are you referring to?

I thought the clients I represented had worthy causes. I only took clients if I agreed with their cause.

How many lobbyists are there on Capitol Hill?

It varies. You get a count anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000. The top tier is under 100.

In your book, you offer a number of proposals to reform the lobbying industry. Can you detail some of them?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, removing the ability of lobbyists and special interests to use money in the political system is one of them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/americans-believe-the-system-is-rigged-against-them-an-interview-with-former-lobbyist-jack-abramoff/2013/01/03/

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