Reprinted from The Nation
In December, two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, pushed Congress and the President into giving away what could amount to over $130 billion in public property.
That's enough to provide every single unemployed American a minimum-wage job for an entire year. That's enough to pay for a year of tuition at a public institution for every college student in the US.
And yet the GOP big-shots call themselves "fiscal conservatives"! "Fiscal conservatives," my you-know-what.
I'm talking about the huge giveaway to the mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton in the Defense Authorization Act. It was splayed across 10 pages of the bill, pages 441 to 450 (out of 697).
Rio Tinto is a 142-year-old mining company headquartered in London with management offices in Melbourne, Australia. It has a market capitalization of $74-$87 billion. BHP Billiton is a 155-year-old mining company, also run out of Melbourne. It has a market capitalization of $124-$126 billion. Based on market value, they are the #1 and #2 largest mining companies in the world. Rather than actually competing against each other (no chance of that happening!), they joined hands. Rio Tinto owns 55 percent of a company called Resolution Copper Mining LLC, and BHP Billiton owns the remaining 45 percent. And thanks to the maneuvering of GOP senators McCain and Flake, the US government is handing over land with more than $130 billion in underground copper to Resolution Copper.