Tuesday, November 04, 2003

National Media White Washes $87 Billion Corporate Giveaway:

NYT and NPR are the only media outlets to have reported that the Senate vote to provide $87 billion in sweetheart corporate contracts to Iraq went down in a 5 to 1 voice vote. The voice vote means that the vote of individual Senators are not recorded in the Congressional register, which means none of them need take a public stand and thus none are accountable for the decisions being made to deepen our involvement in Iraq.

While 94 or so Senators didn't bother to show up, the Senate did previously vote on Oct. 17 on a different $87 billion Iraq spending bill when some 12 Senators--all Dems save for the Independent Jim Jeffords of VT--voted against the bill. This previous bill allocated some of the $87 billion in the form of loans repayable by Iraq, and thus didn't fit President Bush's criteria for a no-strings-attached giveaway, and he threatened veto.

Many Dems on murky ground with the Iraq venture felt safe voting for this measure, because it provided a veneer of real accountability and standing up to the president. For many Reps, too, who are beginning to fear the wrath of their constituents, this first bill made for a good vote.

Monday's bill, though, was one that no one wanted to attach their name to: capitulating to the president, sinking more money into the Iraq quagmire, and taking money away from where it is needed at home: investing in homeland security, education, jobs, healthcare, and so on.

What is ultimately disturbing about this incident is that the Reps and the president can get away with such weaseling and not be called to charge by the Dems in the Senate or the national media, who are mythologized as providing the final check and balance on our democratic system. That NYT and NPR even mentioned a voice vote is somewhat remarkable. The rest of the establsihment, profiteering media simply decided not to report how politicians used this opportunity to shirk the democratic process.

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