Time Warner Lobbyiest Costs You Money
When Bill Clinton watched this year's Super Bowl on TV at the presidential retreat at Camp
David, one of those kicking back with him was Washington superlobbyist Mike Berman.
Berman's corporate clients include Time Warner, the media giant that controls cable access to millions of our homes-and that bills you and me a pretty penny every month for the service. Indeed, practically everywhere in America, the cable market has been divied up by a few huge firms like Time Warner, allowing them to operate in their areas as total monopolies. If you want to watch ESPN, CNN, or other cable channels in your towns, you have to pay their price, for there is no competition.
Which brings me to the 1996 Telecommunications Act that deregulated the cable industry. It lets the companies charge what they want, with no public body regulating rates to protect us consumers. Congress and the White House promised back then that no regulation would be necessary, since this bill would cause a burst of new competition in the cable market, lowering our rates.
Have you checked your bill lately? In the three years since the telecommunications act passed, there's been no competitive burst and the rates have risen about 21 percent. A new study by two consumer groups finds that each of us would be paying $36 less per year had the act not passed. That's a $36 tax that is taken from your pocket and handed directly to Time Warner.
Telecommunications companies spent an estimated $50 million to hire lobbyists like Mike Berman in 1996 to push this robbery into law. Since then, neither the Congress nor Clinton's White House have lifted a finger to stop the robbery. Last summer, thanks to more than $3 million in campaign donations to lawmakers and thanks to more lobbying by the likes of Berman, Congress even killed a proposal simply to study the rise in cable rates.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . . I wonder if Mike and Bill shared a good laugh about all this while they watched the Super Bowl on cable?
"The Cable Guys." Ouch!: A Regular Bulletin on How Money in Politics Hurts You published by Public Campaign: February 12, 1999.
THE NEWT GINGRICH
Gosh, it's really wonderful to be able to count on your friends, especially when you're down and out.
That's why it warmed my heart to learn that some fabulous people in Washington are rallying around one of their own [Newt theme]: The Newt! Newt Gingrich, the deposed Speaker of the House of Representatives is back in the Nation's Capital, promising to stay active in governmental affairs. Isn't that great news?
The "Friends of Newt Gingrich Political Action Committee" has been formed, and a great big Welcome Home fundraiser has been scheduled to fill Newt's new PAC with cold cash. Helping out is former White House aide Nicholas Calio. Nick is now a lobbyist, handling the business of such clients as Anheuser Busch and Sears Roebuck. Former House member Vin Weber is another who's there for Newt. He's also a lobbyist now, toting water for the likes of AT&T and Microsoft. Haley Barbour is standing with The Newt in his moment of need, too. He's the former Republican Party Chairman, though now he's a lobbyist, representing CBS, Philip Morris, and many other concerned corporate citizens.
According to former Representative Bob Walker, this outpouring of lobbyists' love for the Newtster "is a reflection of the role that Newt has played" and a recognition that Newt will "continue to be a presence." By the way, Bob is now a lobbyist, too, representing Visa, American Airlines, and other corporations that just might need the good will of a certain-former-Speaker-who-still-has-friends
-in-high-places-in-Congress. Not that this in any way influenced the decision by these good friends of Newt to shove money at him.
The former Speaker says he may yet run for President, Governor, Pope, or even higher office . . . but for now, he's forming a [quote] "consulting firm" to advise corporate clients on how to get favors done in Washington. He has to be a "consultant" because the law prohibits him from lobbying his former colleagues until he's been out of office for a year-January 2000.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Now there's a real Y2K problem.
"Top lobbyists to help Gingrich." Associated Press: February 26, 1999