In this morning’s post we brought you a story about how Senator Patty Murray’s Ban Asbestos in America Act has been severely compromised because of pressure from high-paid lobbyists working on behalf of multi-billion dollar corporate interests. This is just one more symptom of the aggressive, malignant cancer of corporatism that is weakening American democracy. However, this corporate cancer would be far less able to wreak its destruction without enabling members of Congress who have turned their backs on their constituents and now serve the interests of very wealthy industrialists and bankers instead. Senator Murray has struggled for six years to get the asbestos ban passed. As the bill came up for a vote, however, the corporate lobbyists–all close friends of an administration that has consistently ignored the needs of the American people in favor of global corporations–swarmed over Congress like the Bubonic Plague. Calling in favors and handing out millions of dollars, they convinced their pet legislators to dilute the asbestos bill. This highlights an important fact; there are members of Congress in both major parties who are all too willing to work hand-in-glove with the corporate interests that fund their elections–even when those corporate interests are counter to the needs of the hardworking men and women they were elected to represent.
Representative John Dingle (D-MI) has an opportunity to prove that he has his constituent’s best interests in mind. Dingle is in a unique position of power to determine what the final bill will look like, as he heads the House Committee that will be holding hearings on the asbestos bill next month. Murray’s staffers believe that Dingle will concede to auto industry demands that asbestos brake linings not be subject to the demand. The auto industry has historic significance to Dingle’s home state. Dingle met with representatives of the auto industry in October, but insists that he will “do nothing to damage the bill.” Meanwhile, Senator Murray’s senior staffer, Bill Kamela, has been contacting those who are speaking out against the new, weakened asbestos bill. In response to Dr. Aubrey Miller’s statements, Kamela left the following message on Miller’s answering machine: “This disinformation campaign is not helpful to anybody and certainly not folks who want to stick around this administration and try to do the right thing at the end of the day.”