The Obama Watch

Obama’s Scam and Pelosi’s Pigs

Feeding frenzy at the trough for lobbyist allies of president.

By 2.10.09

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Let's name a few names.

Let's x-ray the process that is giving us this so-called "stimulus" bill.

The gargantuan spending bill now waddling through Congress is a lobbyist's dream. Do not think for a second that Democrats in Congress dreamed this up all by themselves. The principle behind it -- enlarging the government, creating more lobbyists and then robbing the taxpayers blind -- yes. This is gospel to liberals on Capitol Hill, always decked out in the language of superior morality and compassion. But the details? Please. The Congressional expertise in this area is close to zilch. Members of Congress are dependent on lobbyists for this kind of material. So they did what they always do: cranked up some blank pages on their Microsoft Word and turned to their favorite lobbyists to ask "whaddya got?"

What Team Obama and Speaker Pelosi are in the middle of doing here is giving the keys to your safe deposit box (not to mention what's left of your 401k's, mutual funds or the value of your house and anything else you haven't nailed down) to their favorite lobbyists. Then sitting back and letting them ransack every last dime you have for themselves. All for the purpose of growing Big Government into Humongous Government, hence creating enough new lobbyists to fill several Super Bowl-sized stadiums. Not to mention slopping the trough for the thousands upon thousands of lobbyists already in town. All of whom will be most anxious to send contributions to the Re-elect Obama campaign in 2012, not to mention the re-election campaigns of Pelosi's congressmen and senator buddies. Talk about pigs dressed up in lipstick! Next to prostitution this is the oldest game in Washington -- and it produces the same results. Someone is always getting screwed. In this case that someone is -- yet again -- you.

Tempting as it may be to focus on the bureaucratic obfuscation that comes along with hundreds of pages written in language like "Title I- General Provisions: Subtitle A-Use of Funds: Section C of Section 1104," let's do something else here. Let's pick four examples at random from the latest version of the stimulus bill. Let's speak English, as well. Instead of the aptly named "Appropriations to which this section applies," let's put it plainly: follow the money.

Who gets your money? Indian tribes.
Lobbyist delivering the goods: National Congress of American Indians.
How much of your money: "American Indian tribes stand to gain almost $3 billion..." (Source: AP).
Best quote from lobby group: The money from Obama is a "once in a lifetime opportunity."
Favor to Obama from lobby group: On October 31, 2008, Ron Allen, who has served as both president and treasurer of NCAI and describes himself in a public statement as being proud to "serve as a member of John McCain's advisory committee," endorses Barack Obama. Why? "Because I believe he does represent true, sincere and positive change for Indian country." Translation: Obama can be trusted to deliver the goods. The goods turns out to be $3 billion of your money.

Who gets your money? Labor union
Lobbyist delivering the goods: United Steelworkers union
How much of your money: Vice President Biden promises $100 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects. (Source: news reports.)
Favor to Obama from lobby group: On May 15, 2008, the United Steelworkers, led by president Leo Gerard, endorsed Obama.
Favor from Obama to lobby: Obama refuses to insist on removal of a "Buy America" amendment sponsored by Democrats Byron Dorgan (North Dakota Senator) and Peter Visclosky (Congressman from Indiana and chairman of the aptly named if misspelled "Steel Caucus"). Amendment mandates that all funds "appropriated or otherwise made available" by the bill must be used to pay only for "iron and steel ...produced in the United States." Translation: We don't care if this causes a repeat of the Great Depression as it did in the 1930s as long as we get ours. One hundred billion dollars of your hard-earned money is being set aside for the private use of this union. Period. So shut-up and hand over your wallet.

Who gets your money? Teachers union (government employees).
Lobbyist delivering the goods: National Education Association.
How much of your money: $150 billion (Source: New York Times)
Favor to Obama from lobby group: The NEA endorsed Obama on July 4, 2008. On July 5 he spoke to the group by satellite.
Best quote from lobby group: "We've been arguing that the federal government hasn't been living up to its commitments, but these increases go a substantial way toward meeting them," said Joel Packer, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. Translation: Your piggy bank is now the property of a liberal activist union and its members. It will create jobs for them -- on your dime. They will want a tax increase eventually to pay for this. And don't even think of abolishing these new programs once they're funded or they will say you hate teachers and education.

Who gets your money? Environmentalists.
Lobbyist delivering the goods: The Sierra Club (and many others).
How much of your money: $80 billion to subsidize "renewable energy." (Source: news reports.)
Favor to Obama from lobby group: The Sierra Club endorsed Obama on July 19, 2008.
Best quote from lobby group: In a news release from Sierra, club president Allison Chin said: "Our endorsement today marks the beginning of a massive mobilization of thousands of members around the country for the campaign -- on the phone, on the ground, on the airwaves and online, spreading the message that as President, Barack Obama will lead America into the clean energy future and that we support his plan to solve both our economic challenges and the challenge of global warming at the same time." The group has received funding from the Democracy Alliance, which in turn is funded by billionaire George Soros. Translation: We take your money and give it to our lobby pals in groups like the American Wind Energy Association over on M Street (as opposed to K Street or Connecticut Avenue or…well, you get the idea). It creates jobs for more lobbyists, usually ex-Hill staffers and ex-Members of the House and Senate who will lobby for more of your money and, getting it, will hire more lobbyists to get still more of your money. You pay, they lobby. Get it? No house payment problems in the expensive Washington suburbs for these guys.

What's described above is what you might call the Culture of Tom Daschle. Daschle came to Washington as a Senate staffer for a South Dakota senator. Then went home to get elected to Congress himself, where, House or Senate, he remained until his defeat in 2004. Did he go home then? Are you kidding? As the Wall Street Journal noted in a recent editorial, of course not. Tom Daschle a farmer after all that time in the Big Government Big City? Not on your life. There was influence to peddle and money to be made. In Daschle's case, he made millions almost immediately.

In fairness to Daschle, the real culprit here was one of FDR's New Dealers, the late Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran. Corcoran was a gung-ho New Dealer who spent his time with FDR planting all the green shoots of Big Government. When they quickly blossomed and began to endlessly multiply into the bureaucratic jungle that is modern Washington, Corcoran left government to sign on as a jungle guide. A highly paid jungle guide. He was, in some respects, the Bill Gates or Henry Ford of lobbying. Instead of a real product like software or cars, however, the product was influence. The game was simple. Lobby the government to set up a bureaucracy regulating some aspect of your life out there beyond the Beltway, or better yet have a program for it imbedded in the government itself. Even better, get this done while in government yourself. Set these things in political concrete, which is to say they can never, ever be ended. Then, with some formerly private entity now being squeezed or padded by the government, go to them and volunteer your services to lobby. For or against, no matter. You'll get paid -- well paid -- either way.

Take a look around your immediate surroundings as you read this. What do you see? Your computer? Reading this on Windows? Did you Google this publication? The folks at the Computer and Communications Industry Association (which includes as members Microsoft and Google, to name but two) popped for almost $1.5 million in lobbying last year, a long way from the barely couple hundred grand of a decade ago when there weren't as many computers being sold in the world and the 'Net was just getting off the ground. A while back the New York Times reported Bill Gates had to hire an "army of lobbyists" just to deal with the Justice Department alone. Sipping a coke? According to OpenSecrets.org, the Coca-Cola Company felt the need to spend north of $2.5 million on lobbying last year. Wearing your favorite Nike sneakers? Yup. About half a million listed for them last year. Listening to some soothing music? That would be the folks over at the Recording Industry Association of America.

You get the picture.

In other words, Big Government has so invaded every aspect of your life that in self-defense Americans have had to resort to establishing a very well paid influence-peddling industry in Washington, D.C. (and mini-versions in state capitals) just to survive. After decades of this the whole thing has become one very smooth version of an extortion racket disguised as a candy store. Daschle is only the latest to set up shop, focusing on extorting his living from his area of interest -- health-care. It's no accident why he was selected for the Secretary's job at Health and Human Services. Daschle had made it -- quite literally -- his business to know anybody who is anybody in the health-care industry. And like the president he was set to work for, he had every intention of expanding the government's role in your health-care choices and thus willfully enable (not to mention enlarge) the number of lucrative lobbying jobs in the health-care lobbying trade.

The particularly bad part of this is that Republicans long ago bought into this flim-flam machine. It is an article of faith in Washington that lobby shops hire both Democrats and Republicans to work their respective brethren on Capitol Hill and in the White House of the moment. The only way to effectively protest the whole rigged game if you are leaving government service is, simply put, not to play the game. Lots, needless to say, simply don't have the stomach to fight. It's too lucrative. They are addicted to what might be called influence-peddling crack. Instead they become part of the problem, accepting the underlying premise that a centralized Big Government is here to stay and the only thing to do is just accept the fact it will be made bigger. Endlessly. This is why Republicans pop up as lobbyists for the scandal-tarred Fannie Mae. Hey, everybody does it, goes the rationale. And in Washington, D.C. they would be correct. Everybody does do it. And they get paid very, very well to do it.

So now President Obama arrives, using high-blown rhetoric about "change" when he is in fact determined to make the game bigger by a factor of a trillion dollars. The new guy has been in office barely three weeks and his only questions to lobbyists are how fast he can lay down and should he roll over? To which Speaker Pelosi says Amen!

You, my fellow Americans, are being scammed. You are sitting out there working your butts off making or selling widgets -- cars, computers, movies, sandwiches, furniture, cocktails or whatever. You are literally creating and re-creating America. At this exact moment you may very well be unemployed because of what this Washington lobbyist game has done to your widget business. Mark this well: when former President Obama stands at the door of Marine One outside the East Front of the Capitol to get his farewell salute from his successor in four or eight years, you can rest assured that he -- and all the lobbyists he has fed at the trough -- will be laughing as he is flown in high style all the way back to Chicago or Hawaii. He and they will have picked you clean in the name of change.

A little advice?

Stop laying down.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.