The Do-a-Lot Congress
Shecter, Jennifer, Multinational Monitor
A do-nothing Congress it certainly was not. When U.S. lawmakers adjourned in October, many special interests saw their political investments pay off. Here are some of the corporate legislative coups from the 1998 Congress listed in order of industry campaign contributions. All campaign finance data includes PAC, soft money and individual contributions to federal candidates and the national parties and was downloaded from the Federal Election Commission on October 1, 1998 (includes data primarily from January 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998).
Uniform standards for securities class action lawsuits, and a delay until March 30, 1999 on Commodity Futures Trading Commission rules covering swaps and derivatives. Campaign contributions: $23.2 million.
No regulations on either cable or phone companies to put a lid on rates. Broadcasters got between $12 billion and $70 billion worth of free frequencies on the broadcast spectrum and may be able to hold on to the additional airwaves indefinitely. Campaign contributions: $14.4 million.
OIL & GAS
Eight-month delay on Interior Department rules changing the benchmarks for calculating the price oil companies must pay the government for drilling on federal land. The industry continues to seek to pay the government in-kind, rather than in cash. Contributions: $14.3 million.
A billion dollars in government subsidies to remain in the student loan business. Congress passed no laws requiring banks to stop double-charging consumers at ATMs. Campaign contributions: $11.5 million.
Passage of legislation allowing drug and medical device manufacturers to bring their products to the market faster. The industry staved off advertising regulations for manufacturers that own pharmacy benefit management companies. Campaign contributions: $8.3 million.
Retreat by the Treasury Department on rules that would have closed a legal tax loophole that allows some multinational companies to reduce tax payments to foreign governments and avoid payments to the U.S. government on some of their overseas operations. Accountants were responsible for setting up multinational companies in this profitable tax arrangement. Campaign contributions: $6.9 million.
Ratification of two World Intellectual Property Organization treaties strengthening international copyright laws and preventing piracy, and 20-year extension on copyrighted works. Campaign contributions: $6.5 million.
Defeated legislation to settle state lawsuits, regulate nicotine as a drug, limit tobacco advertising and effectively raise more than $500 billion in tobacco taxes. …