Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The gander caught

This President Obama bloke is made of sterner stuff than many of us realised as he really does appear to be practising what he preached. As a candidate, Barack Obama made quite a big thing of abandoning the common Washington practice of letting lobbyists for interest groups slip in to the top jobs of the administration in charge of the areas they had long tried to influence. The Democrats who in general applauded the new Obama principle, thought only about the justice of preventing big business interests getting their hands on the levers of power. It did not occur to those on the left that those who were paid advocates for public interests would be disqualified in the same fashion as those who lobbied for moneyed interests.
But under Barack Obama what is good for the goose is being extended to Democrat ganders. The New York Times reports  that a coalition of nonprofit groups has started a campaign to exempt lobbyists for charitable and social welfare organizations that have tax-free status from the "no lobbyist will be appointed" policy. So far they are making no progress. “It’s painful,” said the president’s senior adviser David Axelrod. “There are a lot of good people out there who are philosophically simpatico with us and are very skilled and would be very valuable to us.” But, he said, “you can’t have carve-outs for lobbyists you like and exclude those that you don’t. It would be very hard for people to understand that distinction. This is one of those cases where we’ve had to sacrifice the help of a lot of very valuable people.”
The Obama lobbying policy bans anyone who was a registered lobbyist from working for any executive agency they had lobbied in the past two years or in any other agency on an issue they had lobbied on in that time. As a practical matter, the Times says, the order meant that most registered lobbyists could not take jobs in their areas of expertise.
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