Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Barack and Nuclear Corporate Money, the big lie

Original Link:

The New York Times reports today on a very disturbing story. This story was first broken on the Common Dreams website on an in depth Campaign Finance article last April, which points up how Obama has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t take money from Federal Lobbyists. The Common Dreams article points to instances where Obama took money from Law Firms and Individuals tied to Lobbyists, and that the money in his campaign chest came from the same types of Corporate Interests as all the other candidates. Other places have trumpeted Obama’s Campaign Finance Hypocrisy since. I, like everyon else, wanted to believe that Obama is, as everyone says, The Real Deal. Unfortunately he isn’t. From the article:

When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”

“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

This is a story of how Obama “meets in the middle” and “crosses party lines” by taking all the teeth out of a bill to the point where it’s totally ineffectual, bending over to Republican bitching and stripping out all meaningful safeguards for the public, just to try to get the bill passed so he could say that he “fought corporate interests”. Uh huh.

Even worse, the Company, Excelon, was one of his largest campaign supporters. Over and over I’ve heard him brag about how he’s willing to go up against entrenched interests and how Obama doesn’t take corporate money for his campaign. Every time he has said that, it’s been a blatant lie. “Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.” And it gets worse. John Rowe, another Obama Donor and employee of Excelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The revisions of the bill left regulation in the hands of the Nuclear Power Plants and current regulatory agencies, and said the commission “shall consider” and not require immediate public notification in the event of a radioactive leak. It also included new wording sought by Excelon that keeps all responsibility for Nuclear Regulatory Oversight out of state and local hands. Federal agencies do little to regulate plants.

So if all of us are looking to Obama as the Great Fixer, we may get more, or rather much, much less, than we bargained for. Like another 4 years of Repuglycans pulling the strings. Not to mention Lots Of New Nuclear Power Plants Paid For By Federal Tax Money. And who cares if they leak? Not Obama, since Actions yell a whole lot louder than Words.

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