In Wednesday evening’s State of the Union Address, the President made the following comment that drew gasps and murmurs:
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)
That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.
The reason for the reaction from the chamber were the facts. The President was lying. Not only does he have lobbyists and former lobbyists on commissions and boards, but many of his advisors and cabinet members fall into that description. I have counted over one hundred personally and most people researching the influence of lobbyists on the Obama administration place the count in the forties. The President went even further, suggesting in his comments that the government would do its work openly and offered as an example, the move the White House made to place the names of visitors to the White House on their website. He failed to mention that this came after a Freedom of Information Act request.
But even more appalling is the revelation yesterday that K Street lobbyists have been invited to participate in a series of teleconferences hosted by the Treasury Department. Raise your hands if you think these teleconferences will be behind closed doors. The Hill wrote, “The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to ‘a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.’ The invitation, which went to a variety of stakeholders, was sent by Fred Baldassaro, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Business Affairs and Public Liaison. The invitation stated, ‘The White House is encouraging you to participate in these calls and will have a question and answer session at the end of each call. As a reminder, these calls are not intended for press purposes.’
So obviously, these meetings will not be public and these insiders will be asked to have, as the President put it, “outsized influence.” By the way, is the term “outsized” really a word?
This tactic of eviscerating and then seeking recommendations from “bad elements” is a familiar one for the White House. The President attacked banks and then asked them to help the economy by lending again. Now he seeks guidance from these lobbyists after lashing out at them.