Washington CEOs Strike It Rich | Seniors, Doctors Baffled by Medicare | Bush Spoofs

Missing Millions—Like the government’s billions of dollars in solid gold bars buried in underground vaults at Ft. Knox, KY, the underground pelf in Washington would be invisible if it were not for one of America’s most journalistically excavating weekly magazines, the National Journal.

The cover story in its February 21 issue reports in devastating detail on the otherwise untold story of the billions of dollars paid to the chairmen and chairwomen of the special interest and lobbying groups, and the think tanks, that fill downtown Washington.

The National Association of Securities Dealers (we’ve heard a bit about them) pays its own CEO $9,430,647, including “benefits and allowances” (we’ve heard about them, too). That’s a few million less than the $11.3 million average pay of the CEOs of the 200 largest U.S. corporations.

The next richest guy is also no surprise—the head of the National Football Players Association gets $2,793,369. Among the 32 others who earn—if that’s the word—more than $1 million are the chiefs of the American Psychological Association; the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association; the American Insurance Association; the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A.; the American Gas Association; the National Association of Manufacturers; the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association; the National Association of Chain Drug Stores; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; the American Hospital Association; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; the Edison Electric Institute; the National Mining Association; and—yep—the American Red Cross. That’s somewhat more than the income of the executive director of the AARP (which used to call itself the American Association of Retired Persons), who banks a meager $689,111.

A few of Washington’s think tank gurus, the heads of the most conservative ones, pass the $500,000 mark. The president of the American Enterprise Institute gets $546,000, and the president of the Heritage Foundation, $694,693.

The annual salaries of federal employees in Washington range from $17,911 for civil service beginners to $130,305 for top bureaucrats. Members of Congress get $158,100, which explains why the National Journal found that 10 former Congress members recently quit and gave up their meager salaries for bigger bucks.

Ask Your Doctor?—According to the Los Angeles Times, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that “only a fraction of the nation’s seniors understand the new Medicare prescription drug law, and the more they learn about it the less they like it.”

A lot of physicians also don’t like Medicare, which is supposed to be a signature achievement of the Bush administration. And the usually pro-Bush, right-wing Heritage Foundation has begun a campaign, labeled “Bitter Pills,” that attacks the new Medicare law for its “sickening surprises that have serious consequences for seniors and taxpayers.”

A Comic Counterfeit—A loyal reader in Grand Rapids, MI, has sent us a hilariously hefty, silver-dollar-size homemade gold coin that bashes Bush in Latin—and with laughter.

We escaped Latin in high school, but under the coin’s image of Bush II an accompanying glossary translates the Frutex Mendax as “Shrub Liar.” On the coin’s opposite side is a heraldic shield featuring a loon and headed with the words: E Opulentus Potentatus, which the glossary tells us translates as “From Great Wealth, Political Power.” Next to a Roman statuesque head of Bush are the Latin words: Mutuari et Insumere, which translates as “Borrow and Spend,” and appearing in English are the words, “In Deficits We Trust.”

Rotating around the coin’s edge are the English words: “First in War, First in a Piece of the Action, First in the Wallets of His Businessmen” and “Lacks Currency.” Limited quantities of the so-called “Goony coin” are available for $10 each at www.goony.us.

He Won’t Grow—But Funny Times, a rollicking publication of political humor, has “seeded” him again. As in the year 2000, it has come up with a small packet of seeds mocking G.W. Bush. During the previous election year, there were seeds for “Texas Homegrown Dope.”

Now it’s a seed packet heralding “Mission Not Accomplished,” which grow into “Soldier Bush Beans,” useful for “creating stewing conflicts.” The seeds are available for $1 a packet at Funny Times, P.O. Box 18530, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118. Or call 1-800-811-5267. The monthly publication itself can be purchased for $23 a year.