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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Big Government’s Double Standard

When Republican Governor, Pete Wilson, surveyed the flooding from California’s torrential rains, what did he do? He demanded help from the federal government.

When Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, learned of the plummeting Mexico peso and stock market, what did he do? He declared his support of a Washington bailout, on the U.S. taxpayers’ “full faith and credit”, of the Mexican dictatorial regime’s plutocratic mismanagement.

When Dan Quayle heard, a few years ago, that his personal credit file was accessed by a reporter, he declared the need for tighter government regulatory controls against invasions of privacy.

When those Republicans and right-wing Democrats campaigned last fall against “big government,” most of them neglected to define what they meant by that term. Now it is clear that they want even bigger budgets and more bureaucrats for the post-Communist era Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies. If by the admission of the Pentagon and George Bush that there is no longer any military threat from the Sino-Soviet nations -­indeed the U.S. is selling arms and computers to these nations -­then why has the $300 billion defense budget only declined by about 15%? Why are you the taxpayers still spending about $100 billion a year to defend prosperous Western Europe and Japan-Korea from who?

Obviously there is a “permanent government” in Washington that pleases those big corporations that are eating at the trough of government welfare handouts and contracts. Their allies inside the Executive and Congressional branches receive jobs when they leave government service or campaign contributions to be re­elected. Such allies remain loyal to maintaining that kind of “big government.”

Saying one thing and doing another has always been a mark of most politicians’ careers. But this time, didn’t the Gingrich forces swear, pledge and promise that they were different? It seems, however, that in these hyper times, it is easier for a politician to slide away from the liabilities of hypocrisy than in olden times.

What’s more, it is easier than ever simply not to reply to questions about hypocrisy, whether from the press or citizenry. On December 1, 1994, nine Senators broke their written pledge not to vote for a budget-busting proposal just before the vote on the GATT/World Trade Organization vote. And three other Senators, long known for their balanced budget fervor (Senators Phil Gramm, Bob Dole and Jim Sasser) also broke their oft-repeated words. None of them explained to the people why they switched on the Senate floor.

But then, breaking the budget by $30 billion was to respond to the demands of global corporations that demanded GATT. It would have been much easier for these turncoats to stay consistent were the budget waiver expenditures to go to health care or education.

There is a double standard — one for corporations and one for individuals — that is twisting the federal government into a caricature. Can you imagine a federal bailout for real Americans at a level of the $500 billion (principal plus interest) to bailout the crooked or speculatively S & L banks?

In Washington, D.C. there are thousands of struggling small businesses who pay income taxes to the District government. Not so, the giant Fannie Mae corporation. It is locally tax-exempt by act of Congress and saves some $300 million a year in District income taxes while it makes over billions in profits and pays its executives very, very handsomely.