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www.DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

Washington - Page 49


"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell


SELLING POLITICAL LOVE TO WALL STREET - "Wait – here comes a bank hugger! He's John Boehner"



The Dark Underside of Political Financing - "In the United States, bribery is legal and it's terrifying"



Bill Clinton Has a Dream

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 22, 2008

Bill Clinton napped through the service to honor Martin Luther King. A New York Post video showed Clinton nodding off several times and checking his watch.



Heck of a Job Bushie!

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com – January 20, 2008

G. W. Bush put on his cape and emerged from a phone booth to save America from total financial meltdown. Bush announced his economic stimulus plan, according to the Associated Press.

Evidently Americans figured that Bush’s plan would work about a well as everything else he has done.

The day started out with a big early market advance.

When Bush’s speech began, the major indexes were trading mixed.

By the time Bush finished his tax relief song and dance, the indexes were well into negative territory.

Here is the reaction of Dennis Kucinich: “President Bush's plan is nothing more than another tax break for the rich, this time cynically disguised as help for our ailing economy…Americans know who is responsible for starting the financial fire now threatening to engulf our entire economy. Wars that make us less safe; tax cuts favoring the already affluent; and a complete lack of accountability and oversight of financial institutions are what are fueling this fire. The Bush Administration has to answer to all of this.”

Heck of a Job Bushie!



McClellan Comes Clean: Bush Misled the Public

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - November 21, 2007

As lobbyists are professional sycophants, spokespeople are professional liars. They will say anything that they are paid to say. The White House press secretary always wins the biggest liar award, hands down. G. W. Bush seems to go through a lot of press secretaries. It’s no wonder. There are limits on how many lies one person can tell. Even the most blatant liar reaches the point that he just cannot face the public to tell yet another lie.

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan is coming clean about how Bush misled the public, according to MSNBC and the Associated Press. He lays the blame for misleading the public about White House aides involvement in outing CIA operative Valerie Plame on G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

McClellan’s new book details some of the lies that he told for Bush. But he claims that he did not know that they were lies at the time. He wrote: "There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

New White House press liar, er, secretary Dana Perino went into evasive maneuvers. She could always say that McClellan is not to be believed because he was once a lying White House press secretary.



Bush’s Medicare Plan Blows Up

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com – October 8, 2007

The partial privatization of Medicare that G. W. Bush and the insurance industry pushed through Congress was doomed from the beginning. Even the AARP sold out seniors and pushed for privatization. AARP’s real game is selling insurance, and there was big money to be made with privatization.

Initially, seniors faced a bewildering hodge-podge of drug benefit plans to choose from. A federal audit has now uncovered real problems in these plans, according to The New York Times. Seniors have been thrown to the private insurance wolves. Lies, hidden information, deceptive sales tactics, and improperly denied claims are the order of the day.

There are many conditions that Medicare does not cover. But it’s all new Duke Energy retirees will have. Duke’s lifetime, fully-paid health insurance is no longer fully-paid. It is still good for life, provided the retiree dies at age 65!

Medicare Drug Plan Written by Lobbyists



Bush Knew There Were No WMD All Along

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - September 24, 2007

Salon interviewed two former CIA officers and found what many people have suspected. George W. Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) well before he attacked Iraq. Bush invaded Iraq because he wanted to, and built a shaky case to justify it.

One former officer said "The fact is there was nothing there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear."

In 2002, Bush refused to listen to CIA director George Tenet when he delivered top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD.

In 2006, Tyler Drumheller, former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, told 60 Minutes that Bush knew that there were no WMD. Now two more CIA officers have verified his account.

The two officers said that one of Tenet's deputies told them "You haven't figured this out yet. This isn't about intelligence. It's about regime change."

Bush kept all information that did not suit his regime change agenda hidden. He lied to Congress about WMD. The Iraq war is Bush’s war. All who died were victims of George W. Bush.

Independence Day 2005



More Rats Jump Bush’s Sinking Ship

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - September 17, 2007

Attorney General “Speedy” Gonzales finally left office Friday. He clung to his job and evaded questions about his ethics for as long as possible. He was another old pal of Bush from Texas.

The Associated Press reported on a speech given by Gonzales at a Hispanic Heritage Month ceremony. Gonzales said "Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible."

Gonzales was evidently looking in a mirror when he made the statement.

Friday was also the last day for Tony Snow (Job) as White House press liar. Bush has gone through several press liars since he has been in office. One can only tell lies day after day and year after year for so long. Snow Job claims to be leaving for more money.

Congressional investigations finally got too hot for Karl Rove, and he also headed back to Texas.

Rats On a Sinking Ship



'I Will Salute No More Forever'

Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - September 11, 2006

This article was posted on www.michaelmoore.com:

'I Will Salute No More Forever'

By Mike Ferner

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

St. Louis – His government broke his heart but it could not break Air Force veteran Charles Powell's spirit. Fighting back tears, the 64 year-old vet stood tall and resolute in front of 400 of his comrades, describing in verse the final steps of a painful disillusionment.

Each summer during the national convention of Veterans For Peace, time is reserved for a Veterans' Speakout, where any member can rise to say whatever is on their mind.

When the veterans gathered in 2002, prior to the invasion of Iraq, George Bush and the hawks of Washington were pounding away on the war drums. That year, Powell, who had served on a Titan ICBM launch crew during the Cuban missile crisis, read his poem titled, "I Won't Let Them Take My Flag." He noted the warmongers were "again waving my flag" as a buildup to invasion, and he countered what he felt was a manipulation of the national symbol with the following lines reminiscent of the great Langston Hughes.

"But to me 'Old Glory' still stands for the liberty, justice and solidarity yet to come. So I still wave it too. I wave it for health care, education, housing and food for all. I wave it for peace and love and I wave it for hope. Most of all, I wave it for the America yet to be."

After four and a half years of war in Iraq, Veterans for Peace convened again this summer and Charles Powell was there, as always. As his turn came at the Speakout microphone he struggled a few seconds to compose himself. Then, in a clear voice growing more determined as he spoke, Powell mirrored the pain, regret and anger in the hearts of so many who listened.

I Will Salute No More Forever

As a child I learned to Worship that piece of colored cloth.

My family, my school, the movies, TV taught me to believe that fragment of fabric stood for good things.

I watched my father, a World War II Army veteran, give homage to that wad of material.

As an airman I saluted that banner for the four years I served in the Air Force where I stood ready to help launch Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles on command.

Then I became aware that the wonderful things for which that clump of colors is supposed to represent, have not been achieved.

I came to know that awful, unlawful, unwise and immoral acts have occurred under the stars and stripes.

But I still clung onto the belief and hope that someday, somehow conditions would change and the good things for which that rag is still supposed to stand would yet be realized.

However, I've been forced to come to my senses.

Now we have: preemptive war, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, stop loss, neglect of returning veterans, ignored infrastructure, billions of dollars squandered on war and occupation, extraordinary rendition, secret imprisonment, warrantless domestic spying, disenfranchisement of voters, stolen elections, torture, suspension of habeas corpus and denial of due process.

So, even though hearing "America The Beautiful" still increases my heartbeat.

Although seeing those stripes still brings a lump to my throat.

Even though the sight of those stars continues to bring tears to my eyes.

I won't pledge to it anymore.

I won't remove my cap.

I won't stand in respect.

I won't wave it.

I will salute no more forever



Dick Cheney Allows No Free Speech

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 14, 2006

This article was published by The Progressive on 10/4/06:

Criticizing Cheney to His Face Is Assault?

By Matthew Rothschild

Steve Howards says he used to fantasize about what he’d say to President Bush or Vice President Cheney if he ever got the chance.

That opportunity arrived on June 16, the same day he says he read about U.S. fatalities in Iraq reaching 2,500. “Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, ‘I can’t in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.’ So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, ‘Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.’”

Howards says he was taking two of his kids to their Suzuki piano camp in Beaver Creek, Colorado. They were walking across the outdoor public mall area when all of a sudden he saw Cheney there.

“I didn’t even know he was in town,” Howards says. “He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, ‘I can’t in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.’ So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, ‘Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.’ And then I walked away.”

Howards says he knew the Administration has a “history of making problems” for people who protest its policies, so he wanted to leave off at that.

But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment.“About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow,” Howards recalls, “and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, ‘Did you assault the Vice President?’ ”

Here’s how Howards says he responded: “No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me.”

Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.

“He grabbed me and cuffed my hands behind my back in the presence of my eight-year-old son and told me I was being charged with assault of the Vice President,”Howards recalls.

He says he told the agent, “I can’t abandon my eight-year-old son in a public mall.”

According to Howards, Reichle responded: “We’ll call Social Services.” Before that could happen, however, “my son ran away and found my wife,” who was nearby, Howards says.

“First of all, I was scared,” Howard recalls. “They wouldn’t tell my wife where they were taking me. Second of all, I was incredulous this could be happening in the United States of America. This is what I read about happening in Tiananmen Square. They hauled me away to Eagle County jail and kept me with my hands cuffed behind my back for three hours.”

At the jail, the charge against him was reduced to harassment, he says, and he was released on $500 bond. The Eagle County DA’s office eventually dropped that charge.

On October 3, Howards sued Reichle for depriving him of his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from illegal seizure.

Howards and his attorney, David Lane, have not demanded a specific dollar amount.

“We will go to trial and let a Colorado jury decide what type of damages are appropriate,” says Howards. “This isn’t about anything I did. This about what I said. There is a frontal assault occurring on our constitutional right to free speech. We brought this suit because of our belief that this Administration’s attempt to suppress free speech is a greater threat to the long-term integrity of this nation than ten Osama bin Ladens.”

Reichle did not return my call for comment. Nor did he respond to The New York Times in its article on this incident.

Lon Garner, special agent in charge at the Secret Service’s Denver office, says he has “no reaction” to the lawsuit. “It’s in litigation,” he says. “We have no comment.”

Before his encounter with Cheney, Howards says he had a clean record.

“I was never arrested before,” he says. “I don’t have so much as a speeding ticket.”

The Energy Bill Monstrosity



Resign, Mr. Speaker

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 4, 2006

This editorial was published by the conservative Washington Times editorial board on October 3, 2006:

The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened.

Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, the Republican chairman of the House Page Board, said he learned about the Foley e-mail messages "in late 2005." Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the leader of the Republican majority, said he was informed of the e-mail messages earlier this year. On Friday, Mr. Hastert dissembled, to put it charitably, before conceding that he, too, learned about the e-mail messages sometime earlier this year. Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hastert insisted that he learned of the most flagrant instant-message exchange from 2003 only last Friday, when it was reported by ABC News. This is irrelevant. The original e-mail messages were warning enough that a predator -- and, incredibly, the co-chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children -- could be prowling the halls of Congress. The matter wasn't pursued aggressively. It was barely pursued at all. Moreover, all available evidence suggests that the Republican leadership did not share anything related to this matter with any Democrat. Now the scandal must unfold on the front pages of the newspapers and on the television screens, as transcripts of lewd messages emerge and doubts are rightly raised about the forthrightness of the Republican stewards of the 109th Congress. Some Democrats are attempting to make this "a Republican scandal," and they shouldn't; Democrats have contributed more than their share of characters in the tawdry history of congressional sexual scandals. Sexual predators come in all shapes, sizes and partisan hues, in institutions within and without government. When predators are found they must be dealt with, forcefully and swiftly. This time the offender is a Republican, and Republicans can't simply "get ahead" of the scandal by competing to make the most noise in calls for a full investigation. The time for that is long past.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.

A special, one-day congressional session should elect a successor. We nominate Rep. Henry Hyde, also of Illinois, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee whose approaching retirement ensures that he has no dog in this fight. He has a long and principled career, and is respected on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Hyde would preside over the remaining three months of the 109th Congress in a manner best suited for a full and exhaustive investigation until a new speaker for the 110th Congress is elected in January, who can assume responsibility for the investigation.

Rep. Boehner Can’t Get Story Straight



Rep. Boehner Can’t Get Story Straight

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – October 2, 2006

The most disturbing thing about Republican Rep. Mark A. Foley’s inappropriate e-mails to a 16-year-old male page is that Foley is head of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. The New York Times reported that Top House Republicans knew for months about the e-mails, but kept the matter hidden and allowed Foley to remain in the top position over exploited children.

Republicans in the know about the Foley e-mails include House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner and Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds. Both claimed that they had informed Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of the issue.

Rep. Hastert claimed that he did not remember any conversations about e-mails to young, male pages, and issued the following statement: “No one in the speaker’s office was made aware of the sexually explicit text messages which press reports suggest had been directed to another individual until they were revealed in the press and on the Internet this week.”

Rep. Boehner went on to add that Rep. Hastert appeared to already know of the e-mail incidents when he talked to him about it.

Only hours after Rep. Boehner stated that he had promptly reported the matter to Rep. Hastert, he contacted The Washington Post to say he could not be sure he had spoken with Hastert!

Boehner has a history of not being able to keep his stories straight.

The Post reported “Republicans appeared to have kept the matter under wraps.”

The only Democrat on the House Page Board said "I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House page, and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter."

The Democratic National Committee issued the following: "Why Did Tom Reynolds Cover Up Congressman's Sex Crimes?"

The Republicans are already under the weight of scandals involving Reps. Robert W. Ney, Tom De Lay, and Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

Republican political strategist Rich Galen said "This sense of entitlement that members of Congress can do anything to anyone or for anyone has got to end."

The Ghosts of Corruption Present



The Ghosts of Corruption Present

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – September 18, 2006

This New York Times editorial was published September 18, 2006:

One of the shabbiest shell games under way in Congress is the attempt to convince voters that lawmakers are curbing their corrupt relations with power lobbyists. The cravenness was never clearer as G.O.P. House leaders passed a placebo rules change in place of honest reform — and on the very day when one of their own, Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, was plea bargaining in the corruption investigation of his old friend Jack Abramoff, the disgraced überlobbyist and influence peddler.

The political ghosts of Mr. Ney and Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, should haunt this Congress and its Republican bosses for their disgraceful refusal to end the Capitol’s embrace of the lobbying industry. In the first burst of the Abramoff scandal last spring, both houses made all manner of reform vows, then cynically hung two hollow bills out to die on the vine.

Last week House leaders sanctimoniously promised an end to the “fog” and “shadows” with a rules change concocted of smoke and mirrors. The rule pretends to deal with just one part of lobbying corruption, the cramming of millions of dollars in special interest favors into must-pass budget bills.

Disclosure of these backdoor deals and their sponsors is promised. But lobbyists who have feasted on earmarks are already mapping their way around this fig leaf, just as lawmakers hungry for lobbyists’ campaign money know they have once more voted for the shameless status quo.

Congress is offering this wink and a nod on earmarks only to cover its spinelessness on larger ethical issues. The Republican majority has already junked proposals to restrict the rise of lobbyists as campaign finance brokers for grateful lawmakers.

A more responsible Congress would ban lobbyists as political money bundlers, as well as the proliferation of lawmakers’ relatives as lobbyists and the Capitol junkets catered by lobbyists on corporate tabs.

Rep. John Boehner is Still Lying



Rep. John Boehner is Still Lying

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – September 8, 2006

House Majority Leader John Boehner is still lying, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

On July 26, 2006, Rep. Boehner posted on his website a joint statement by Rep. Dennis Hastert, Rep. David Dreier, and himself, concerning “Congressional Earmark Reform.” Below is a portion of the statement:

“After Labor Day, the House is likely to consider, among other items, a number of important appropriations conference reports for the upcoming fiscal year. If the House and Senate have not produced a final lobbying and ethics reform conference report by the time we return from our August district work period in September, the House will move to immediately adopt and implement a comprehensive earmark reform rules change independent of the ongoing lobbying and ethics reform discussions to ensure these new rules apply to all spending and tax measures that will go to the President’s desk this fall.”

Now, Boehner is denying all! He claims that he "never promised to take up the resolution immediately upon Congress' return."

It’s understandable that Boehner would get amnesia about promising earmark reform – there is big money from lobbyists in earmarks! It well know that when a lobbyist speaks, John Boehner listens. Boehner listens, does tricks, and then sticks out his hand.

The March 15, 2006 issue of The WasteBasket stated: “Congress’ addiction to pulling pork to their districts is out of control, and the numbers tell the story. Last year, taxpayers spent $32.7 billion on 15,584 earmarks in every congressional district in the nation. Compare that to just 2,000 earmarks in 1996 and the explosive growth in this practice becomes clear.”

Cracking Down on Lobbyists?



A Boehner in the Henhouse

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – August 21, 2006

This article was published by The Nation in February.

Newly-selected House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is getting some remarkably good press, considering his remarkably sordid political pedigree.

ABC News referred to the grizzled veteran of Capitol Hill, who was elected to the House when George Bush the Dad was president and Democrat Tom Foley was the Speaker of the House, as a "fresh face." The network's report on the House Republican Caucus vote to select a replacement for the indicted Tom DeLay was headlined: "New Leader, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, Campaigned as a Reformer."

The Los Angeles Times announced, with no apparent sense of irony, that: "By choosing Boehner to fill DeLay's shoes in the House, the party hopes to move past scandals."

Newsday just went for it, declaring above its report on Boehner's election: "A promise of reform wins vote."

As they say in the newsroom: Don't believe everything you read in the headlines.

Boehner is an old-fashioned shakedown artist whose promise of "change" amounts to little more than a pledge that he won't get caught like DeLay did. The Ohioan may be smoother than the Texan, but only a fool, or a Washington pundit looking to cozy up to the new boss, would mistake a better haircut and the absence of the stench of bug spray as evidence of ethics.

The best take on Boehner's elevation to the top of the Congressional food chain comes not from the Washington press corps but from one of the city's more watchdogs: Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.

Referring to Boehner victory over the presumed favorite, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Missoui, in the House leadership contest as "a selection of Tweedle Dum over Tweedle Dee," Claybrook explained that, "The rejection of Representative Blunt shows that rank-and-file Republicans are aware the corruption scandal that has shaken Washington could put their majority status at risk. But the elevation of Representative Boehner, himself a product and proponent of the systemic problem of cronyism and influence-peddling that afflicts our nation's capital, is not a sign that business as usual will end."

Claybrook invites Americans to consider these facts about the man who, because of Speaker Dennis Hastert's obvious limitations, will now be the most powerful player in the House of Representatives:

  • Boehner recently characterized Hastert's plan to ban privately funded travel as "childish" and dismissed the need for a ban on gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress. "If some members' vote can be bought for a $20 lunch, they don't need to be here," he said. Later, Boehner backed away from his characterization of the travel ban as "childish," but not the sentiment underlying his remark.

  • Boehner's political action committee collected nearly $300,000 from private student lending companies and for-profit academic institutions from 2003-2004. Boehner has used his chairmanship of the Education and the Workforce Committee to promote their pet causes - legislation that would make it more difficult to cut the fees on government student loans, which would cut into the private lenders market share, and legislation that would provide millions in subsidies to for-profit colleges and trade schools. (For more details on this, see a report in the Washington Post of January 28, 2006.)

  • Boehner has taken more than $157,000 in free trips, placing him seventh among 638 current and former members of Congress, including senators, in the value of privately funded travel accepted between 2000 and 2005, according to American Radioworks. These included a $4,869 trip to Scotland in 2000 and a $9,050 trip to Rome in 2001, both of which were sponsored by the Ripon Educational Fund, a nonprofit group largely run by business lobbyists. Family members traveled with him for free on both trips.

  • An exceptional number - at least 24 - former Boehner staff members have passed through the revolving door from government service to find work in the private sector as lobbyists or corporate public affairs specialists. (For more details on this, see a report in The Hill newspaper of February 1, 2006.)

  • Boehner preceded indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as the head of the "K Street Operation," the Republicans' efforts to coordinate policy and fundraising with well-heeled lobbyists, which since has been dubbed the "K Street Project." But the Ohioan lost the job to DeLay in 1998 after he was voted out as head of the Republican Conference. (For more details on this, see a report in the Baltimore Sun of December 21, 1998.)

  • Boehner caught a large amount of flack for handing out checks to his colleagues from tobacco company PACs on the floor of Congress in 1995. Although not illegal, it certainly showed poor judgment but was consistent with his role at the time as the party's chief liaison with K Street. (For more details on this, see a report in the New York Times of May 10, 1996.)

The indictment of Boehner that Claybrook has advanced explains why principled Republicans in both the conservative and moderate camps backed a third candidate for the Majority Leader post, Arizona Representative John Shadegg, who promised to "clean up" the House. Shadegg described his race against Boehner and Blunt as "a choice between real reform and the status quo."

With Boehner's election, the status quo has prevailed. And as Claybrook notes with her usual bluntness -- and accuracy -- that is an ugly result not just for House Republicans but for America.

"Elevating a leader of the current broken system to be majority leader is an affront to voters and a stain on the Republican Party," Claybrook argues. "If the past is any guide, Boehner will now use this key position to undercut ethics and lobbying reforms in the House of Representatives."

The 'Pension Protection' Act of 2006


Washington - Page 48