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As Bush Signs Corporate Crime Bill, He Railroads Through a Trade Bill Which Will Bring the World's Accounting Regulations to the Standards of Enron, and Pushes for Senate to Confirm the "Enron Judge"

StoryJuly 31, 2002
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It’s on the front page of the papers today: a photograph of President George W. Bush signing legislation he calls "the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

He was flanked by members of his economic team, Republican Congressional leaders, and smiling Democrats.

President Bush objected to the bill’s provisions just a few weeks ago. But yesterday he cast himself as a protector of the rank-and-file worker and small investor.

Yet quietly, behind all the public relations maneuvering, the Bush administration is continuing to push for massive global deregulation of business and support the kinds of political operators that support scandal-ridden corporations like Enron.

President Bush is expected to win a major victory this week and win fast track negotiating authority. In the middle of the night on Saturday, the House of Representatives passed by a razor-thin margin a controversial, 300-page trade bill. President Bush himself made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill to personally lobby for the bill. The bill includes fast track authority, authorization to negotiate a 31-nation NAFTA expansion and global deregulation of food safety, accounting, energy and other standards; and new limits on enforcement of labor or environmental standards in trade agreements.

Senate leaders said on Tuesday they will move to circumvent stalling tactics by opponents of their version of the bill and bring it to a final vote before the chamber leaves for an August break.

Meanwhile, open warfare has broken out between the White House and Capitol Hill over President Bush’s most controversial nomination to date to the bench of one of the nation’s high courts.

Bush has nominated Judge Priscilla Owen to serve on the powerful fifth circuit Appeals Court, the tier just beneath the US Supreme Court.

In Texas, she is known as 'Judge Enron' for an opinion she wrote overturning another court, exempting Enron from paying school taxes. Senators and a host of organizations say Owen has used the bench to advance a zealous right-wing ideology, contesting the right to abortion and favoring big oil and energy companies.

Bush has personally intervened to back Owen, and her campaign is being managed by Karl Rove, Bush’s closest adviser.

Guests:

  • Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice–have been heading up Texas Coalition against Owen. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow at 8:45.
  • Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Public Citizen is a consumer advocacy group founded in 1971 by Ralph Nader. Global Trade Watch is dedicated to promoting government and corporate accountability.

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