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Does it matter how much Americans know about what Obama does? Believing voters wanted to know, Obama in 2008 promised total transparency if elected. Instead, according to revelations at a May 4 House hearing and on so many occasions, Obama has been more opaque than transparent. Most Americans thought he was a man of promise. Instead, he is only a man of promises.
The May congressional hearing was chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla), chairman of the oversight subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. No one from the White House testified, even though an invitation was sent. At the hearing, even Anne Weismann of the left-wing Center for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington, testified that Obama hasn’t kept his word.
In 2008, voters aged 18 to 29 voted for Obama over McCain by the dramatic imbalance of 66 percent to 32 percent. He promised enthusiastic crowds: transparency, accountability, and participation for all citizens.
Americans will have an internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in downloadable format. He promised an independent watchdog agency to oversee investigation of ethics violations. He promised a database to disclose what federal contractors spend on lobbying and what contracts they are getting. Health-care hearings will be shown on C-Span., he said. “That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together; no negotiating behind closed doors,” he said on Jan. 21, 2008. But the doors were always tightly shut.
He also promised to end earmarks and to make available on the Internet tax breaks for corporations. He promised not to sign bills passed by Congress until the public had five days to review them on the White House website. If promises are made to be broken, Obama has sledge hammered his high-minded pledges.
He told us in 2009 he would release visitor logs to the White House. But the Center for Public Integrity said April 13 that its analysis showed less than 1 percent of the estimated 500,000 visits to the White House in Obama’s first bustling eight months in office have been disclosed. Although the White House boasts of making available 1,000,000 records of everyone who enters its doors, the Center’s analysis shows the logs omit identity of many visitors.
One way the Administration has dodged transparency is by having his aides meet at the Caribou, a coffee shop near the White House, with influential K Street lobbyists, according to a New York Times June 24 story—“Members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its ‘outsized influence’ in Washington.” Because the get-togethers aren’t at the White House, they aren’t subject to disclosure on the visitors log Obama said he would release to be the “most transparent Presidential Administration in history.”
Gaps in visitor records at the White House blindside the public and historians as to who was visiting and when. AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka, however, has been logged in at least four dozen times; but the records tell why only a dozen times. Andy Stearn, when he was head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), also spent so much time there he almost should have paid rent.
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