The Corporate Conservative Administration
and Robert Weissman
corporate conservativism. It's corporate conservatism that is going to be the
defining feature of the Bush White House.
beyond the corporate corrupting frontiers blazed by the Clinton administration,
the Bush team is making clear that it intends to deliver on its campaign
promises to strengthen Big Business's grip over government policy-making.
Bush cabinet is drawing on corporate executives as much or more than any
previous administration. Andrew Card, set to be Bush's chief of staff, moves to
the White House from a posting as General Motors vice president. Previous to
that position, he ran the auto industry's lobby shop. Bush has tapped Paul
O'Neill, chair of Alcoa, to head his Treasury Department. Bush crony Don Evans,
the Commerce Secretary-designee, is CEO of Tom Brown, Inc., an oil company.
Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush nominee to head the Pentagon, is former CEO of G.D.
Searle and of General Instrument, and has held a variety of other top corporate
posts. Bush's nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary, Anthony Principi, is
president of a wireless telecommunications company. National Security
Adviser-designate Condoleeza Rice is a member of the board of directors of
Chevron (which has christened an oil tanker, the Condoleeza Rice) and Charles
Schwab, and is a member of J.P. Morgan's International Advisory Council.
course, both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (CEO of Haliburton, the oil services
firm) themselves both come from the oil industry.
transition team is dominated by high donors and corporate interests. Of the 474
individuals on the transition team, 261 made political contributions during the
last election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics reports -- and 95
percent of the $5.3 million they contributed went to Republican candidates or
the Republican Party.
more telling is the overwhelming corporate background of the transition team
transition team for the Department of Energy, for example, is almost exclusively
made up of people affiliated with or working for the extractive energy industry.
Companies and outfits represented include: Phillips Petroleum, Enron, Kennecott,
Southern California Edison, the National Mining Association and the Nuclear
the Department of Health and Human Services transition, the drug, biotech,
insurance and hospital industries are set to have their way. The transition team
includes representatives from Merck, the American Hospital Association, Mutual
of Omaha, BIO (the biotech trade group), Ernst and Young and the National
Association of Health Underwriters.
the Department of Labor transition team, you find two members of the Teamsters,
and no other labor-affiliated representatives. Instead, the transition team
comes from Union Pacific, the National Restaurant Association, the American
Trucking Association, the National Mining Association, the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and the Society of Human Resource Managers.
unlikely that the transition team members -- at least as a body -- had much
influence over Bush's cabinet appointments, but they may well have significant
sway in the hiring of second- and third-tier officials. These are the people who
get their hands dirty on policy details, and can deliver the goodies to the
ceremonial posts are being parceled out with a machine-like efficiency to high
donors and top fundraisers.
Committee Co-Chairs Bill and Kathy DeWitt and Mercer and Gabrielle Reynolds come
from the Cincinnati-based investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt and Company. Bill
DeWitt and Gabrielle Reynolds were co-chairs of the Ohio Bush-Cheney Finance
Committee. Other members of the inaugural committee sport similar resumes.
in the Clinton-Gore footsteps, Bush-Cheney are soliciting private funds for the
inauguration. While Clinton-Gore at least restricted the donations to $100 or
less, however, Bush-Cheney are banking on major donors. More than 50 individuals
have each contributed $100,000 or more to the inauguration committee.
economic summit, held earlier this month in Austin, was actually a get-together
with business leaders. The Austin meeting featured 36 top corporate executives,
including such major Republican donors as Kenneth Lay of Enron, John T. Chambers
of Cisco and Michael Dell of Dell Computer.
you would imagine, this turn of events has corporate American dancing in the
streets. "They are happy, certainly," Jim Albertine, president of the
American League of Lobbyists, told the Boston Globe, speaking of his
association's members. "There is a strong belief that a lot of things will
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999).