Free Markets, Free People

Obama’s Transparency

President Obama went after Washington lobbyists in a big way last night, blaming them for what ails America in a major portion of his State of the Union speech.

In his State of the Union on Wednesday, Obama once again targeted K Street: “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.”

But that was yesterday. Today his administration reached out to those same lobbyists to help pass Obama’s agenda:

A day after bashing lobbyists, President Barack Obama’s administration has invited K Street insiders to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union.

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 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.”

Like a secret mistress, K-Streeters are not exactly thrilled with Obama demonizing them in public and then requesting their expertise behind closed doors:

Some lobbyists say they are extremely frustrated with the White House for criticizing them and then seeking their feedback. Others note that Democrats on Capitol Hill constantly urge them to make political donations.

One lobbyist said, “Bash lobbyists, then reach out to us. Bash lobbyists [while] I have received four Democratic invitations for fundraisers.”


Lobbyists say the Obama White House has held many off-the-record teleconferences over the past year.

For example, lobbyists and others were invited to a teleconference with “senior Obama administration officials” on Monday to discuss the administration’s plan to improve the lives of middle-class families.

The invitation, which is addressed to “Friends,” emphasizes in bold and italics that “this call is for background information only and not intended for press purposes.” It advises callers to tell the operator “you’re joining the ‘White House Briefing Call.’ ”

Another lobbyist said these types of teleconferences occur “all the time.”

And that is why many on K Street are exasperated with Obama’s use of lobbyists as a punching bag. Some have said they understood why he used strong rhetoric on the campaign trail but are irritated the White House solicits their opinions while Obama’s friends in Congress badger them for political donations.

That politicians court special interests is nothing new, nor is their blatant prevarication and hypocrisy when it comes to claiming to “work for the people.” Yet publicly targeting specific groups for opprobrium in order to drum up public support, and then immediately running to that very same group for their help, is a whole special class of slimy. Who is it, exactly, that Obama thinks he’s backstabbing? The electorate? The lobbyists? Indeed, why should anyone trust him at all? And all of this in the name of transparency.

Judging by his actions, Obama thinks “transparency” means “clearly lying”.

13 Responses to Obama’s Transparency

  • He’s transparent all right.

  • Obama is such a fraud

  • And yet the idiots still give.

    I can’t blame Obama a drop in this case.

    • Ditto.  And it ain’t just lobbyists:

      When Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett hosted a private dinner with the leaders of six banks to discuss financial regulation on Jan. 20, the bankers soon changed the subject. The president needed to stop demonizing Wall Street, they told Jarrett, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
      What the executives, including Brian Moynihan, the chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp., and Robert Kelly, the chief executive of Bank of New York Mellon Corp., didn’t know was that President Barack Obama, who had proposed a new tax on the biggest banks six days earlier, was about to strike again.

      O’ course, these banks contributed pretty heavily to Imeme’s campaign.  In this case, payback IS a b*tch!

      I can only suppose that many democrat members of Congress are horrified by all of this.  While Imeme may be more interested in being a good one term president than a mediocre two-termer, those ward-heelers on Capitol Hill are all interested in hanging on as long as they can in order to continue to line their own pockets.  That will be hard if campaign contributions (and sweetheart mortgages!) from well-heeled contributors dry up because their party leader has made it clear that he is on a crusade against various industries that have traditionally shelled out big bucks.

      Or perhaps Imeme is counting on the money continuing to flow from companies who will keep playing ball because they think that it could be even worse:

      Now the firms and their chiefs, confronting a wave of public anger against their bonuses awarded in the wake of the financial industry bailout, are trying to devise a strategy to fight both the proposed new limits on banks’ size and activities as well as the bank tax. While they are still plotting tactics, one thing has become clear: The banks don’t want to go to war with the commander-in-chief.

      “We don’t want to fight the administration,” said Rob Nichols, whose trade group, the Financial Services Forum, represents the chief executive officers of the largest financial companies.

  • I said early on he was either a liar, or stupid.  I ruled out stupid pretty quickly (though it’s extremely clear he has that opinion of the voters, and who could blame him based on the election results).
    He’s managed to prove the truth of the first two parts of  Barnum’s maxim –  He’s now heavily involved in deluding himself into believing he’s gifted enough to negate the third.
    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.

  • Do lobbyists really have much of a choice?  They will spend their money where the power and influence are, and right now, it’s on the Democrats’ side.  They could, presumably, start spending money to help Republicans regain some power and influence, but then they’d probably be demonized by them.  It’s a queer, if predictable and reliable, relationship.
    But yes, I get the point of the post– it looks particularly pathetic to “lobby the lobbyists” one day, hold a SOTU address that trashes them the next day, and then invite them to a chummy discussion the day after that.  I suppose that people will generally view lobbyists as evil and alien creatures with no scruples, but when they start to view the President in the same way…

  • You know things are bad when you lose your cheerleader …

    First, Massachusetts turned on the president. Now, the bikini-clad “Obama Girl” — who famously cooed about her “crush” throughout the presidential campaign on YouTube videos — admits the thrill is gone.
    Amber Lee Ettinger — the buxom sensation who lip-synched about her love for then-candidate Barack Obama — said she wishes he spent his first year in office more focused on fixing the abysmal economy.

  • ‘ It advises callers to tell the operator “you’re joining the ‘White House Briefing Call.’ ”’
    Makes me wonder what you could do if you just had a few people call the WH during business hours and say that every so often. That’s a terrible protocol for getting into a conference call, if it complete…

  • A new direction on HCR transparency – it WAS broadcast on C-Span.  Really, it was! President Imeme says so.
    Oooooooo – and he’s mad too….ooooooooo, dad’s mad and he had to stop and think before he said something that would sound bad.