Category Archives: politics & business

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com.

Donors Gave as Santorum Won Earmarks

The announcements flowed out of Rick Santorum’s Senate office: a $3.5 million federal grant to Piasecki Aircraft to help it test a new helicopter propeller technology; another $3.5 million to JLG Industries to bolster its bid to build all-terrain forklifts for the military; $1.4 million to Medico Industries to upgrade equipment for its munitions work.

Each of the news releases represented an earmark or, in some cases, multiple ones — the practice by which members of Congress set aside money in federal spending bills for what critics often denounce as pet projects back home.

[…]

But an examination of Mr. Santorum’s earmark record sheds light on another aspect of his political personality, one that is at odds with the reformer image he has tried to convey on the trail: his prowess as a Washington insider.

A review of some of his earmarks, viewed alongside his political donations, suggests that the river of federal money Mr. Santorum helped direct to Pennsylvania paid off handsomely in the form of campaign cash.

[…]

In just one piece of legislation, the defense appropriations bill for the 2006 fiscal year, Mr. Santorum helped secure $124 million in federal financing for 54 earmarks, according to a tally by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. In that year’s election cycle, Mr. Santorum’s Senate campaign committee and his “leadership PAC” took in more than $200,000 in contributions from people associated with the companies that benefited or their lobbyists, an analysis of campaign finance records by The New York Times shows.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com

Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com.

January 3, 2012, 9:00 pm

Beyond Elections: People Power

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Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com.

December 27, 2011, 9:00 pm

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0

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Deep Pockets, Deeply Political – NYTimes.com

Deep Pockets, Deeply Political – NYTimes.com.

December 19, 2011, 10:08 pm

Deep Pockets, Deeply Political

A tiny number of wealthy Americans are playing an ever-increasing role in financing our politics. This is not a good thing for a democracy.

[…]

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The Trouble With That Revolving Door – NYTimes.com

The Trouble With That Revolving Door – NYTimes.com.

December 18, 2011, 9:00 pm

The Trouble With That Revolving Door

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New York Developers Take Advantage of Financing-for-Visas Program – NYTimes.com

New York Developers Take Advantage of Financing-for-Visas Program – NYTimes.com.

Rules Stretched as Green Cards Go to Investors

Affluent foreigners are rushing to take advantage of a federal immigration program that offers them the chance to obtain a green card in return for investing in construction projects in the United States. With credit tight, the program has unexpectedly turned into a mainstay for the financing of these projects in New York, California, Texas and other states.

The number of foreign applicants, each of whom must invest at least $500,000 in a project, has nearly quadrupled in the last two years, to more than 3,800 in the 2011 fiscal year, officials said. Demand has grown so fast that the Obama administration, which is championing the program, is seeking to streamline the application process.

Still, some critics of the program have described it as an improper use of the immigration system to spur economic development — a cash-for-visas scheme. And an examination of the program by The New York Times suggests that in New York, developers and state officials are stretching the rules to qualify projects for this foreign financing.

[…]

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Inside The 1 Percent’s Texas Enclave | Mother Jones

Inside The 1 Percent’s Texas Enclave | Mother Jones.

Inside The 1 Percent’s Texas Enclave

Howdy from Highland Park, where taxes are low, the gun store’s booming, and donations to the GOP are way, way above average.

At a strip mall clogged with Ferraris and fashion boutiques, Beretta Gallery salesman Chris Cope shows me a framed photo of one of his best clients, an oilman posing next to a bounty of elephant tusks. In addition to selling massive safari rifles, this high-end Italian weapons emporium in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park supplies $130,000 Imperiale Montecarlo shotguns as well as petite .22s and chic, lockable handbags to conceal them. All told, it sells more firearms than any other Beretta outlet in the world. Last year, the store presented George W. Bush with a $250,000 shotgun engraved with the presidential seal, a picture of his Scotty dog, and “43” on the lever. The gun, which required more than a year to assemble, was a thank-you from Mr. Beretta for a military order of a half-million pistols.

It’s fair to call 75205, the zip code for most of Highland Park, the most enthusiastically Republican enclave in the country. Among the two-dozen zip codes that donated the most money to candidates and political parties last year, 75205 gave the highest share—77 percent—to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It also gave Republicans more hard cash, $2.4 million, than all but four other zips nationwide. Affluent, insular, and intensely sure of itself, Highland Park is the red-state counterpart of, say, Berkeley. It’s a place where, one native son half-jokes, friends might ask one another, “Do you want to come over for barbecue after we go vote for Mitt Romney?” People in the surrounding city of Dallas, where I grew up, call it the Bubble.

[…]

It’s no secret why Highland Park attracts so many rich conservatives. It has a prime location near Dallas’ financial center and one of the lowest property tax rates in a state with no income tax. Yet it has one of the nation’s best school systems and an average emergency response time of 2.5 minutes. “Highland Park is safe,” says Mary Bosworth, a local GOP precinct chair. “You call the fire department and they’ll be there in three minutes, versus ‘Are you dead yet?’ in Dallas.”

[…]

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Crippling the Right to Organize – NYTimes.com

Crippling the Right to Organize – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Contributor

Crippling the Right to Organize

Stanford, Calif.

UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom President Obama named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases.

What would this mean?

Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions.

[…]

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Keystone Claptrap – NYTimes.com

Keystone Claptrap – NYTimes.com.

Editorial

Keystone Claptrap

The Keystone XL oil pipeline has become the House Republicans’ weapon of choice in their fight with President Obama over jobs and taxes. Mr. Obama has said he will not make a decision on the pipeline until 2013. The Republicans are insisting that he approve it now and have attached an amendment to a bill extending the payroll tax cut in hopes of forcing his hand.

This legislative booby trap seems unlikely to make it through the Senate, and the president has all but said he would reject it if it does. But this has not stopped the House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, from using the pipeline as a political cudgel — or from wildly inflating its economic benefits.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Will Congress Ban Corruption in Its Midst? – NYTimes.com

Will Congress Ban Corruption in Its Midst? – NYTimes.com.

Editorial

Will Congress Ban Corruption in Its Midst?

In a rare instance of Congressional bipartisanship, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have quietly approved badly needed measures to tighten the anticorruption laws applicable to members of Congress. These laws have eroded across a decade of court decisions, and it remains to be seen whether the full Congress will tighten bans on fraud and bribe-taking by those in its ranks.

With public approval of Congress in the single digits, the two houses would be wise to pass the Clean Up Government Act of 2011. The measure would strengthen the federal anti-bribery law that was considerably narrowed by a 2010 Supreme Court decision saying the statute covers only cases of outright kickback schemes, requiring proof of quid pro quo corruption. That lets conniving officials off the hook if they engage in undisclosed self-dealing — like quietly steering a valuable road plan through land they secretly acquired

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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