Tea party Congress: ‘Power to the corporations’
Good grief—the genuine populist fury of grassroots tea partiers is now being perverted into anti-populism by the very tea party Republicans they elected to Congress.
Tea party House members have become the Koch brothers’ plutocratic dream. They’ve voted to keep giving a $4-billion-a-year government subsidy to Big Oil, to privatize and slash Medicare, to let Wall Street banksters keep ripping off consumers and investors, and to put Social Security on the congressional killing floor. Is this what grassroots voters meant by “Power to the people?”
Take tea party Congressman Austin Scott. Only, you can’t—he’s already been taken by corporate lobbyists. This Georgia Republican won election last year by waging a full-throated campaign against foreign workers who enter the country illegally. Throw ’em all out, he ranted—those jobs belong to U.S. citizens. But, curiously, Scott did not applaud on July 29 when Legal Service lawyers won a case to stop a corporation in his district from illegally firing U.S. workers and replacing them with Mexican migrants.
Far from applauding, this tough-on-immigrants tea party stalwart abruptly shifted sides, favoring the corporation’s illegal hiring practices against his own constituents who’d been thrown out of their jobs. Indeed, only three days after Legal Services won its case against the corporation, Scott rose up on his hind legs and introduced H.R. 2774, a vindictive, one-sentence bill that says: “Be it enacted … in Congress assembled, that the Legal Services Corporation Act is repealed.”
Scott’s hypocrisy is as subtle as a hammer to the head: He professes to be for the people then tries to kill a program that helps poor people pursue justice against corporate elites. “Power to the corporations” is his motto.
In the tortured language of CorporateWorld, workers are no longer fired, they’ve just experienced an “employment adjustment.” But the most twisted euphemism I’d heard in a long time comes from DuPont: “We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms,” the pesticide maker recently stated.
How unfavorable? Finito, flat-lined … the tree is dead. Not just one tree, but hundreds of thousands all across the country are suffering the final “symptom.” The culprit turns out to be Imprelis, a DuPont weed-killer widely applied to lawns, golf courses, and cemeteries. Rather than just poisoning dandelions and other weeds, the herbicide also seems to be causing spruces, pines, willows, poplars and other unintended victims to croak.
“It’s been devastating,” says a Michigan landscaper who applied Imprelis to about a thousand properties this spring and has already had more than a third of them suffer outbreaks of tree deaths. “It looks like someone took a flamethrower to them,” he says. At first, DuPont tried to dodge responsibility, claiming that landscape workers might be applying the herbicide improperly. The corporation even urged customers to be patient and leave the tree corpses on their lawns to see if they come back to life in a few years.
However, faith-based landscaping was a hard sell, disgruntled homeowners began filing lawsuits—and then DuPont had its own “aha!” moment: Trees on the grounds of the DuPont Country Club also developed the “unfavorable symptoms” of Imprelis poisoning.
So, with the cooperation of DuPont, the EPA has finally banned the sales of the tree killer. But because of inadequate testing and a rush to profit, the poison will remain in soils and water across the country for many moons—and the deaths will continue. Will we never learn?