Just when I thought the Bush Administration couldn’t get any more corrupt, they actually use another disaster to befall Americans on their watch (Hurricane Katrina) to help them further their own cronyism. This one even reached CNN:
About 250,000 federal employees have government credit cards, which typically have a purchase limit of $2,500.
At the request of the Bush administration, Congress increased the credit line to $250,000 as part of a massive Katrina recovery bill approved last week. The aim is to make it easier to speed aid to victims.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R‑Iowa, said the “outrageous increase” was “slipped” into the bill. He is seeking to insert language in a Katrina health bill that would reduce the limit in most cases to $50,000.
Under the guise of ‘making it easier to speed aid to victims’, all of the checks and balances on abuse, the built-in encouragement to help Women and Minority-owned businesses and local businesses go out the window if your expense is less than $250,000. This wouldn’t obviously be the best ecommerce strategy that one could implement, because that business would require a lot of funds.
So, let me get this straight: With little to no oversight, a federal employee with a government credit card could pretty much finance the building of a house, if they want, no questions asked. Or maybe they could charge a trip to tour facilities in, say, Las Vegas, to get an update on the latest construction techniques (wink, wink). If we thought the rebuilding of Iraq was a gift to Haliburton in no-bid contracts, try multiplying that by 250,000 people, all with carte blanche (although I assume the cards they have are Visas or Mastercards). Apparently there was a minor update to this after Grassley’s uproar, and they need a ‘signature’ from another government official for expenditures over $50,000. Oh that changes everything.
Here in Canada there was a huge uproar over corruption by the Liberal Party for funneling about $81 million (CAD) in funds to an advertising agency with ties to their party for little or no work. To put that in perspective, Halliburton, which has pretty close ties to the current administration, was again in the news about their contracts in Louisiana. And as for their sterling reputation in Iraq:
All told, Halliburton has earned more than $12 billion in Iraq. Pentagon audits released by Democratic party in June showed $1.03 billion in “questioned” costs and $422 million in “unsupported” costs for Halliburton’s work in Iraq.
— from a report published Sept. 22, 2005 by Pratap Chatterjee, an investigative writer who is currently Director of CorpWatch.org.
All in all, I’d say that Canada has a lot to learn in the corruption game. $81 million? Heck, I’ll bet that Halliburton has that kind of pocket change fall out as they lean over their rigs in Bagdad. As Crocodile Dundee said: “That’s not a knife…”
Maybe if the Government of Canada gave, say, a quarter of a million of their employees a credit card with a quarter of million dollar credit limit, then we’d be talking scandal.
Or maybe it’s just business as usual in the country to the south of us these days.