Saturday, November 28, 2009

Is Obama a Progressive President?

While many seem dubious at the moment, I have no doubt about Obama, despite my view that he ought simply to get out of Afghanistan.

Sometimes it is the small unnoticed things that tell the tale:

From the Washington Post by way of the Huffington Post:
Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.

The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.

Of course they are fighting back. The Huffington Post story:
"Not surprisingly, lobby groups, corporations, and other K Street influencers are up in arms.
The reaction from the lobbying community has been swift and overwhelmingly negative. Some of the loudest criticism has come from the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs), a collection of more than a dozen panels that provide policy advice and technical assistance to the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative. The ITACs, whose roughly 400 members include at least 130 lobbyists, officials say, have taken the lead in attacking the White House policy as misguided and harmful to U.S. business interests; a letter to Obama from committee chairs last month included executives from Boeing, IBM, Harley-Davidson and International Paper.

"This action will severely undermine the utility of the advisory committee process," the letter read. ". . . The characteristics that make many Advisors valuable to the Administration [are] the same characteristics that are being used to artificially disqualify them from participation in the Committee system."

You can read White House Counsel's full letter responding to lobbyists' critiques of the decision here. A brief excerpt:

I assure you our action was not provoked, as you suggest, by "criminal and unethical behavior of a few individuals." Indeed there have been some egregious abuses, but this decision was not meant to besmirch anyone who is a registered federal lobbyist.

It is about the system as a whole.


No comments: