crony capitalism in Washington

I have seen this movie before … many times. Regardless of country, the ending is very sad.

A few hours after Rex Tillerson was confirmed as US secretary of state this month, he received some excellent news. The House of Representatives voted to nullify a rule that, as head of ExxonMobil, he had vigorously opposed. Known informally as the “publish what you pay” rule, it obliges oil and mining companies to disclose payments they make to foreign states. Scrapping it is a big victory for Big Oil. It is another sign that a Donald Trump presidency means not so much draining the swamp as handing over the swamp to the crocodiles. ….

If ExxonMobil bags a big project in Mozambique or, better yet, Russia, people will ask what it paid and whether Mr Tillerson smoothed the way — despite his pledge to recuse himself from such issues. As Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and author of Building the New American Economy, argues, Mr Trump is putting lobbyists out of business. “He’s just handing finance over to Goldman Sachs,” he says of Gary Cohn’s appointment as director of the National Economic Council. “And he’s just handing State over to ExxonMobil.”

David Pilling, “Trump, Tillerson and the resource curse“, Financial Times, 23 February 2017 (gated paywall).

The nullified rule was signed into law in 2010, but never come into effect because of industry lobbying by the American Petroleum Institute.

As the sponsors of the bill – Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin – point out, Canada and European countries have enacted similar laws, so lobbyist arguments that the rule would place US oil companies at a competitive disadvantage are not valid.

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