SPADES | politicians

DENNIS HASTERT: 6 of spades
(CH, CW) (what do these signs mean?)

In March, just prior to the Iraq war, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said remarks in a speech made by the Senate minority leader "may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close." What passes for near-treason in Hastert's mind? The following:

In a March 17 speech, Senator Tom Daschle had said he was "saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war."

The WorldNetDaily article

And Hastert calls himself an American patriot? Now we all know that George Bush intended to fail at diplomacy. He planned war all along, despite his pious pronouncements of preferring peace, that his mind was not yet made up, and blah, blah, blah. It was a show of lies and deception, put on for domestic consumption only. Daschle was wrong only in his thought that perhaps Bush had tried diplomacy, albeit incompetently. His only error in hindsight was thinking George Bush was an honorable man.

But Hastert is far less than simply a disgrace to the Bill of Rights and those who gave their lives fighting for it. He also has no sympathies with government existing to serve its citizens. Instead, it exists to serve the wealthy, and so do the rest of us in his mind. Harsh words? Consider the following:

One relatively painless means for helping our poorest citizens is the earned income child tax credit. It gives a tax credit to lower income families with children.

Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Ark.), sought to ensure that taxpayers earning above $10,500 a year still qualified for a refund under the child tax credit, even if they owed no income tax. Bush did not include it in his original $725-billion tax cut proposal in January 2003, nor was it in the $550-billion cut initially approved by the Republican-led House. But Lambert's provision did pass the Republican controlled Senate. It would have cost $3.5 billion, 1% of the final tax cut that passed into law.

OnMay 30, 2003, Nick Anderson and Justin Gest of the Los Angeles Times wrote "Had the proposal been in the final legislation, some tax analysts calculate, nearly 12 million children in families with lower incomes - from $10,500 to $26,625 - would have received some benefit. Without it, experts say the expanded tax credit, which rises this year to $1,000 a child from $600, will mainly help families with incomes above $30,000 a year."

Even those who make so little they pay no income tax do not go tax free. Sales taxes in particular fall disproportionately on the poor, who must of necessity spend a larger portion of their income on basics. And the children of the poor are in no way responsible for their situation. But for Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay, such a tax credit was a luxury the country could not afford, not if it meant cutting 1% from a tax curt that went mostly to the wealthy.

The bill won final approval May 23; the Senate vote was 51 to 50, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking a tie.


David Brooks is a conservative commentator who occasionally gives signs he argues his principles for reasons of belief rather than income augmentation. On October 28, 2003, he attacked Hastert for his central role in ramming through the now discredited tanker lease scheme where Boeing would be paid an extra $5.6 billion over the cost of simply buying the planes. (Compare that to the $3.5 billion tax credit for the poor that Hastert helped torpedo.)

Brooks details some of the shadiest elements of this scandal, a scandal that leaves Hastert still in the drivers seat as Speaker because, well, because he pays off the rich who pay him off in return. Citizens be damned.

The New York Times article

Finally, as our Blog also reports, Dennis Hastert is upset about how Canada treats Americans seeking to buy prescription medications there. He wants "U.S. action to bring about changes in Canada's prescription drug price control policies." which he claims are unfair to U.S. residents.


All Canada does is allow American citizens to buy drugs there more cheaply than they are allowed to here in the U.S., at least so long as they do not thereby use up Canada's supply of medicine. Hastert finds this unfair to us.

But what is not unfair are attempts by American drug companies to exert control far beyond simply selling their products to willing buyers, which I always thought the market was about. Tamsin Carlisle of the Wall Street Journal reported that "Drug maker Pfizer Inc., New York, earlier this month demanded in a letter to Canadian drug wholesalers that the wholesalers limit their dealings to retail pharmacies preapproved by Pfizer."

This exercise in something rather less than free trade was not all Pfizer wanted. "As a condition of doing business, the company also directed Canadian wholesalers to implement 'customer flagging, order screening and related procedures' and to report back to Pfizer on customer orders. Several other big pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Eli Lilly & Co., have said they will limit sales of patent-protected medicines to Canada over concerns that the drugs are being re-exported to the U.S."


Hastert is basically a servant of big money rather than an advocate of small government or free enterprise. He prefers America's new aristocracy which, like Marie Antoniette, when reminded that not all are doing well, suggested "Let them eat cake."

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