Friday, July 29, 2005


Welfare Queens: Why would Tom Delay (Republican - Texas) give $1.5 billion to Halliburton and Marathon?

Conservative politicians have a talent for telling memorable anecdotes that capture the essence of their beliefs on any particular issue. One of the most enduring of these came from Ronald Reagan on the subject of welfare. He cited a Chicago "Welfare Queen" who had ripped off $150,000 from the government, using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards, and four fictional dead husbands. The country was outraged; Reagan dutifully promised to roll back welfare; and ever since, the "Welfare Queen" driving her "Welfare Cadillac" has become permanently lodged in American political folklore.

Unfortunately, like most great conservative anecdotes, it wasn't really true. The media searched for this welfare cheat in the hopes of interviewing her, and discovered that she didn't even exist.

As a bit of class warfare, however, it was brilliant. It diverted public attention from insider traders in their limousines to Welfare Queens in their Cadillacs, even though the former were stealing thousands of times more from the American people than the latter. Just one example of the cost of white collar crime would become apparent a few years later, when President H.W. Bush bailed out the Savings & Loans industry with $500 billion of the taxpayer's money -- enough to fund 20 years of federal welfare.

However, Conservative Politicians have much less concern for Corporate Welfare. With gas prices hitting record highs, and oil companies reaping record profits, one has to wonder why Tom DeLay, the conservative free marketeer, felt the need to give away $1.5 billion of hard working taxpayer dollars to an energy consortium based in his home district.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay quietly slipped into the energy bill a $1.5 billion fund for oil and natural gas drilling research that will benefit an energy consortium based in his home district, a California Democrat said on Wednesday.

The measure was criticized as a "giveaway to one of the most profitable industries in America," by Rep. Henry Waxman, who demanded that the fund be dropped from the legislation before a House vote on the energy bill on Thursday.

The House approved the wide-ranging energy bill, which includes some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives mostly for oil, natural gas, coal and electricity companies, on Thursday.

A vote in the Senate is tentatively set for Friday.

Waxman said the $1.5 billion fund for ultra-deepwater drilling was added to the final energy bill this week after House and Senate negotiators called a halt to any more amendments. The 30-page measure appeared in the text of the energy bill after Texas Rep. Joe Barton had officially ended the House and Senate conference committee to combine legislation passed by each chamber, he said.

"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman said in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A spokesman for DeLay defended the fund, saying it was in the energy bill approved by the House in April.

"The project is only new to Mr. Waxman if he failed to read the House bill he had voted on," the spokesman said, adding he could not explain how the item was added to the final version of legislation prepared by the Senate and House negotiators.

Waxman said the fund would steer most of the money to a private consortium based in Sugar Land, DeLay's home district, by directing the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

Members of the consortium, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, include Halliburton Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and several universities, according to the group's web site.

The non-profit group conducts research into designing better technology to explore and produce natural gas in deep water, the web site said.

Waxman said that the measure added to the energy bill provides that members of the consortium -- including Halliburton and Marathon -- can receive money from the fund administered by the consortium.

Editor's Note: Following Conservative philosophy, these mega-corporations with their mega-profits should be funding non-profit's and universities with donations, but in this case they seem to need government handouts. One has to wonder why.

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