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When is pork really pork? When is a lobbyist really a lobbyist? January 27, 2009

Posted by neoavatara in Politics.
Tags: , , , , ,

Mmmmmm....bacon....Or is it pork?


Barack Obama promised, and has for the most part, enforced ethics rules in his White House, probably the strictest in history.  So it is somewhat disingenous to say he hasn’t been perfect.

But he hasn’t.

First came news that Obama had, within days of enforcing his ethics rules, made a loophole for certain nominees.   President Obama has nominated William Lynn, an undersecretary of defense during President Clinton’s second term, to be deputy to Secretary Robert Gates.  Lynn was a senior vice president at Raytheon, which has billions of dollars in Defense Department contracts. It is is the maker of the Army’s Patriot missile system and the Navy’s Tomahawk missile and is developing a global positioning satellite communication system for the Air Force.  Obama promised to prevent any lobbyist from working in the field he lobbied for 2 years.  Well, I guess Mr. Lynn is too honest, the rule doesn’t need to apply for him.  Now, Tim Geithner is asking for a waiver for his deputy, who is a former Goldman Sachs Lobbyists.  We shall see, maybe every lobbyist deserves a waiver, they are all too valuable not to be utilized.

Obama has also placed an absolute ban on any earmarks in bills he will sign.  So what have the lobbyists done?  They have gone underground.  Much of the lobbying work is now in the shadows.  For example, there is numerous reports of hundreds of lobbyists being involved in the current $850 Billion stimulus package, but the Democrats claim there are no earmarks in the bill.  How can that be?  Becuase earmarks used to be made in the Congress; now, the ‘earmarks’ are being put in the original bill, without any oversight. Some have argued that there is even less openness:

“We hate earmarks, but at least it’s a way of tracking where influence is had,” said Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “There is a challenge now that projects will be added behind closed doors without a paper trail.”

“In the past, in the appropriations bills we could see a list of the projects. They were right there printed in the bill,” said David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group. “Now it’s going to be a lot more difficult to see where the money is spent. You will have to contact each agency and each program manager to find out where the money is going.”

Then the Democrats, in a ludicrous statement, are saying there is no pork in the stimulus bill. First of all, ‘NO PORK’ in a bill coming out of Washington?  That doesn’t even meet the laugh test.  Second, any ‘stimulus’ bill that had $300 million for contraceptives (since withdrawn by President Obama), $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts, and possibly billions to ACORN (yes, the same ACORN that has been indicted in several states).  Then, $200 million to reseed the lawn in the National Mall.  Um, what?  I thought we were broke?  And no offense, but there are already landscapers working for the government; trust me, I used to live there, I know some of them personally.  Are we funding this so Congressmen don’t have to look at dying grass, or to actually create economic stimulus?  It is absurd.

So we will see if Obama’s rhetoric on earmarks, pork, and lobbyists stand the test of time. I will give him credit that he has tried to do a lot.  But sometimes, reality hits you flat in the face.



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