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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > What Candidates Aren’t Telling

For citizens who are vague about what money from business lobbies to political campaigns will buy, try silence! Here is a list of subjects over-ripe for candidates attention except for the dollar-sealed politicians for whom the slogan is “mum’s the word:”

1. The Federal Reserve is the banking industry’s government in residence. It is the most powerful federal regulator of the nation’s economy and its slowing the economy with its tight money policy. Both Clinton and Dole say they want more employment, yet both supported the Federal Reserve’s Alan Greenspan for renomination as Chairman who thinks unemployment at 6% is about right. Result? No discussion whatsoever in the campaign about the policies of the Federal Reserve that even mainstream economists are criticizing.

2. Corporate crime, based on the Wall Street Journal’s reporting, is at epidemic levels. These include financial swindles and looting of investors and savers (e.g. the S & L debacle now costing a half a trillion dollar bailout on the backs of taxpayers), pollution, workplace crimes, consumer law violations and bribery of officials — to name a few. Companies do not like crime in the suites to be discussed by political candidates in a campaign. Result? For Clinton and Dole -­alleged law and order types — mum’s the word!

3. Corporate welfare — totaling about $200 billion a year just from Washington, D.C. in addition to state and local subsidies and giveaways — is embarrassing to corporations like General Electric, Lockheed-Martin, General Motors, Cargill, Archer­Daniels-Midland (supermarket to Bob Dole).

Result? Clinton and Dole can’t find room for any words on this topic because they’re too busy racing one another over who is going to cut food stamps, aid to children and the disabled that amount to a tiny fraction of the taxpayers’ aid to wealthy companies.

Think of the great slogan that the Republican Presidential candidate can introduce to awaken his slumbering campaign: “I pledge to get big business off the dole.”

4. The Soviet Union has broken up. China is into business profits. Why is the military budget so large? Because, in part, you taxpayers are spending $100 billion a year defending western Europe and east Asia from non-existent adversaries.

These prosperous countries are eating our lunch and can readily defend themselves. Bringing the boys back home and using that $100 billion for a repair and rebuild American public works program would lay the groundwork for a prosperous economy. Our cities are crumbling into disrepair under and over the streets.

Former Defense Department officials under Ronald Reagan, like Lawrence Korb, believe that a hundred billion dollars can be saved yearly from the defense budget. Why doesn’t Clinton debate this? Too upsetting to corporations feeding from the trough of massively redundant or obsolete weapons systems contracts. Dole even wants to increase the defense budget.

5. Remember energy independence in the Seventies after the gas lines and price surges. Well, the U.S.A. is still importing 50% of its oil, still paying tens of billions for Persian Gulf ships, planes and troops, and is even more imperiled by global environmental hazards from heavy fossil and nuclear fuels consumption.

Solar energy is developing promisingly in our country — windpower, solar heating, photovoltaics, passive solar architecture in regular usage — and energy efficiency still offers great practical cost-saving prospects. Not a word about energy from the Clinton and Dole campaigns.

6. Consumer justice, requiring tough law enforcement on companies who cheat, steal and sell consumers defective, often dangerous products, is a real NO, NO to business lobbies. So Clinton and Dole cannot pronounce the words “consumer protection” because their parties’ are taking insurance, auto, drug, agribusiness, food, real estate, banking and financial services industry money.

7. Universal health insurance. No way, say the huge HMO and Hospital and Insurance industry giants. OKAY, says Clinton who is running away from this hot potato to lock arms with Dole in a brotherly surrender.

8. Then there is the granddaddy of the hot potatoes -­serious campaign finance scandal cleanup to get the corruption of private money out of public campaigns so that politicians cannot sell out or rent out to the highest bidders. That is the subject that never gets beyond the slogans and during the heat of their friends in Congress raising salon money by the buckets, better left unsaid.

Clinton making a corporate critique of Dole? Dole galvanizing his campaign by standing for the people against global corporate power? More likely the Arctic will visit the Sahara.