AT&T: Ma Bell Wants Her Monopoly Back

AT&T: Ma Bell Wants Her Monopoly Back

Global Revolution 1: American Revolution 2: Day 46: Communication 1
IronBoltBruce’s Kleptocracy Chronicles for 1 Nov 2011 (g1a2d0046c1)
How many examples of greed and corruption must you see before you act?

“We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.” – Lili Tomlin

Ma Bell wants her monopoly back, and she’s almost got it:

“After being broken up in the mid-1980s in a landmark antitrust case, this telecommunications icon re-formed in 2005, and became the nation’s largest phone company when SBC Communications bought AT&T Corp. for $16 billion. As SBC, the company led the fight to allow the Baby Bells to enter the long-distance market, where they hope to offer profitable broadband Internet services. Cingular, which bought AT&T Wireless for $14 billion in 2004 and was part of SBC, is now in AT&T’s fold. Cingular – ultimately renamed AT&T again – is the leading U.S. wireless carrier, with more than 54 million subscribers. And AT&T’s growth continues. In 2006, AT&T agreed to buy southern Baby Bell BellSouth in a deal valued at more than $65 billion. In 2011, AT&T sought to merge with T-Mobile USA…”

“This $39 billion mega merger would create the country’s largest wireless company, which along with Verizon – the other 800-pound gorilla in wireless – would control nearly 80 percent of the U.S. marketplace. That means less competition in an already much-less-than-competitive market, fewer choices, and, most likely, higher prices. Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, ‘AT&T is already a giant in the wireless marketplace, where customers routinely complain about hidden charges and other anti-consumer practices. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s difficult to come up with any justification or benefits from letting AT&T swallow up one of its few major competitors. We plan to work very closely with regulators and lawmakers to carefully scrutinize this deal and what it would mean to people’s pocketbooks.'”

Many other consumer advocates oppose the merger, but they face an uphill battle because of all of the politicians whose pockets AT&T is happy to line. The Texas-based telecom giant has invested over $142 million in lobbying since 1997, plus more than $56 million in state and federal campaign contributions since 1989, with their friendly pay-to-play Governor Rick Perry taking the top recipient spot by pocketing $722,194 plus the profit on 700 copies of his “Fed Up” book that AT&T bought…

…all told, almost three times as much as the $276,843 they gave to Barack Obama over the same period:

And of course there’s plenty more where that came from, as Josh Levy of the Save The Internet coalition laments:

“Maybe it’s the water in Washington that’s making people silly. Or maybe it’s AT&T’s hefty campaign spending. Either way, something’s got people believing AT&T when it says that up is down, green is red, 1 + 1 = 3 … and that its proposed takeover of T-Mobile would be good for America. Look no further than the 15 shameless representatives who just signed a letter urging President Obama – whose Justice Department is suing AT&T to block the deal – to support a settlement that would enable the merger and give AT&T control over T-Mobile… We’ve debunked every AT&T myth about this disastrous merger. The Justice Department boldly declared that the deal breaks antitrust law. And AT&T’s own leaked documents prove that its only goal is to snuff out a competitor.”

“As Free Press Action Fund Research Director S. Derek Turner put it, ‘Surely these members can’t believe that a letter repeating long-debunked talking points would cause the Department of Justice to reverse course and ignore the evidence behind its lawsuit.’ Either these members of Congress actually believe in the fantasies AT&T cooks up, or they are so worried that AT&T will turn off its spigot of campaign contributions that they’ll sign anything the telecom puts in front of them. Speaking of which, it turns out that these signers have collectively received more than $570,000 in campaign cash from AT&T:

Career Contributions from AT&T

Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.): $70,000
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Calif.): $69,500
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas): $54,701
Rep. Mike Ross (Ark.): $51,250
Rep. John Barrow (Ga.): $38,000
Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.): $37,250
Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.): $37,250
Rep. David Scott (Ga.): $37,000
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (Calif.): $31,500
Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.): $31,500
Rep. Leonard Boswell (Iowa): $28,500
Rep. Ben Chandler (Kent.): $28,500
Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.): $25,450
Rep. Mike Michaud (Maine): $25,000
Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.): $9,500

It’s time these members of Congress paid a price for raking in campaign contributions while ignoring the plain truth about this job-killing deal…”

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