Friday, November 27, 2009

Obama Tightens Federal Lobbyist Rules

Good news.
Huffington Post's Lobby Blog reports that President Obama's special counsel for ethics and government reform Norm Eisen announced that the administration no longer wanted federally-registered lobbyists appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions.

"These appointees to boards and commissions, which are made by agencies and not the President, advise the federal government on a variety of policy areas. Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington.
As has been reported, the President has made a commitment to close the revolving door that has in the past allowed lobbyists and others to move to and from full-time federal government service. In furtherance of this commitment, the President issued Executive Order 13490, which bars anyone appointed by the President who has been a federally-registered lobbyist within the past two years from working on particular matters or in the specific areas in which they lobbied or from serving in agencies they had lobbied. The aspiration we are announcing today builds on this commitment. While the letter of the President's Executive Order on Ethics does not apply to federally-registered lobbyists appointed by agency or department heads, the spirit does and we have conveyed that to the agencies who are responsible for these appointments."
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the move "may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama," resulting in "hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists" being ejected from federal advisory panels.  Not surprisingly, lobby groups, corporations, and other K Street influencers are up in arms
Sixchair writes ""This action will severely undermine the utility of the advisory committee process," Haha. Bad for you good for US."
I think it's a step in the right direction.  One of his campagin promises was to lessen the influence of lobbyists in his administration.  He broke that promise with a couple of appointees at the beginning.  Some rules and usually following them is better than no rules to ever follow. 


  1. The President doesn't need lobbyists. He has a wide pool of contacts he has garnered over the years, some of whom have advisory roles in the White House. I'm not impressed. Lobbyists are gone but community activists have moved right in.

  2. I look on community activists as a good thing. Often people on the right say that the government should not provide health care for it's citizens, but that it should be a neighbor helping neighbor, or church charity kind of thing. With all the making fun of Obamas having been a community activist I look upon that as working for the betterment of a neighborhood, or area. It's not always free, but it's real.
    I don't know if you read the story at the wash post but the lobbyists say he's cutting his arm off to save a broken finger. (bad analogy)
    But generally if the lobbyists are giving congress talking points for the media, there is something really really wrong.

  3. I meant that I disagree with the world view of his community activist advisors. Here is where we depart from each other on policy. I don't believe in redistribution of wealth, leveling the playing field, fairness for all, etc. etc. The role of gov't is to defend its borders against national threat, and to ensure that the citizens' Constitutional rights are not infringed upon. That means gov't needs to have some reasonable oversight of businesses to protect citizens from fraud and abuse. At some point this nation decided that the government was supposed to take care of us, too, and we ended up with Social Security--we are forced into this program with every paycheck. No one can opt out of paying into Social Security. Looking at how badly Social Security has been financially mismanaged is enough to give one pause about creating a government run single payer healthcare insurance program. Then, of course, we add in Medicare and Medicaid and the reality of government incompetence becomes even clearer. Citizens need to demand that the federal government get its fiscal house in order before it increases any further spending.

  4. I always love being labeled a redistributor of wealth because I have some wacky ideas as to how my taxes should be applied. To follow your logic you are a libertarian, who wishes low to no taxes, no department of education, interior, health & human services, no federal reserve, fine, I get the picture. I am just trying to think of some other country where this idealic little to no-central government exists. As I've said before, I'm not the best on history but I would like a reference of a country that's here now, or in the past so that I can grasp what this country of yours would look like.
    With respect, I don't see it as being at all realistic in today's - not society, not country, but today's world. We are not a global country but we are a huge part of the world economy and culture. I can't fathom life here without SS and medicare for seniors. No federal environmental laws, no education standards. And no I don't see SS as being so mismanaged. You work, you pay taxes, you retire, you get a ss check. The premise is pretty straight forward. One thing that has not been managed right is congress funding of SS. Over the years they have been loath to change the benefit areas and age restrictions, or raise taxes because they are afraid of fallout from seniors. Also ss was put off-budget so we didn't have to count the deficits with the rest of the red ink in this country.
    Your earlier point about some reasonable oversight of business I think is spot on. I am thinking of corporations who today pay little to no taxes. It's welfare for the corporations. Actually if you don't believe in redistribution of wealth then I urge you to fight tax laws and tax breaks for corporations. They get more government money than any welfare mother in CC with six kids. Fight allowing any overseas banking (swiss, bahamas, etc) in countries where they have post office boxes and claim headquarters and don't have to pay taxes. Do I really believe that businesses are taxed too much? There may be some but for the most part, hell no, it's a red herring put out there to lull people into thinking that poor old businesses are so dumped upon and not loved in this society. It's BS. Seperate issue, do I think businesses are mismanaged? Hell yes, to an astounding percent, I think many large and small businesses are run by total idiots who couldn't figure out how to pay a tax or how to avoid paying a tax through a loophole if their health depended on it.
    I don't know what the world view of Obamas community activist (bad word) advisors is? Thanks for the comments.

  5. I am close to Libertarian, but my pro-life views prevent me from being 100% Libertarian. Our delightful small government allowed us to advance to a superpower with a standard of living which is still the envy of the world. And, as you challenge me to find another country where limited gov't works, I say find a country where redistribution of wealth is working. Less government always beats more government for me, hands down. When I said SS was mismanaged, I was referring to its funding. When I look at the trillions of dollars in our debt coupled with the unfunded liabilities in the Big Three entitlement programs, I am absolutely convinced that a single payer gov't run healthcare program is wrong for this country. Someone at some point in time has to pay our bills. Government bills are paid via taxes and at some point we will not have enough wealth left to tax. Crazy Glenn Beck pointed out on one of his programs that if we tax all the 500 businesses in the Forbes 500 list 100% and apply those taxes to the national debt, it will take 145 years to pay it off, and that doesn't include interest. I am absolutely against corporate welfare--I think it's a scandal that businesses duck taxes while the average hardworking citizen has no way of doing so. Closing tax loopholes has to go hand in hand with oversight of business ethics, but even so, do you realize just how much money we owe? How can adding another entitlement program help our national bottom line? It cannot.