Are lobbyists the scum of the earth?  Hmm-m-m-m.  I guess the jury is still out on that one.  Maybe.

But when it comes to transparency in government, I see President Obama is standing by/enforcing one of his campaign promises.  And no one in Washington hates change more than lobbyists.  According to Politico

Free speech advocates from across the political spectrum are accusing President Barack Obama of impinging on First Amendment rights and are gearing up to take their case public.

At issue is an unprecedented directive that Obama — who has long railed against lobbyists as the personification of a corrupt Washington culture — issued last week barring officials charged with doling out stimulus funds from talking to registered lobbyists about specific projects or applicants for stimulus cash.

I do not like lobbyists.  I believe they exert an undue influence on the process.  What process you ask?  Any process to which they apply some pressure for a decision that favors the folks paying their salary.   I mean it is bad enough that “industry groups” can donate to political campaigns.  Lobbyists just magnify the effect.

Having listened to all the hyperbole from the “right” about how their “free speech” rights are being trampled on, we find out what is really going on.

But Elizabeth Alexander, press secretary for the vice president, who has been tasked with overseeing the stimulus, pointed out that lobbyists can still talk to administration officials about the stimulus policies, just not specific projects.

“The goal is full transparency. That’s entirely consistent with the First Amendment,” she said in a statement to POLITICO. “Lobbyists can communicate about specific projects in writing and about policy issues orally. That fully respects freedom of speech — while at the same time ending closed-door lobbyist deal-making in favor of sunlight,” she said.

Here are some of the comments posted at the Politico site w/o attribution

1.  So, how much Kool-Aid will I have to drink to be able to swallow the notion that Republicans have now become “pro-lobbyist”?

Here’s a hint – it will come back to haunt you next election cycle.  Before you take up the cause in bashing Obama no matter what he is doing, you might want to take a look at what he is doing.

2.  First amendment implications aside, the new lobbyist-muzzle rule is unprecedented and could have unintended consequences, said ethics and lobbying lawyer Larry Norton. A former Federal Election Commission general counsel, Norton predicted the rules will prompt some lobbyists to de-register, so they can personally lobby agencies for stimulus funds.

That can be done legally, Norton said, if the lobbyists shift their workloads so that they spend less than 20 percent of their time lobbying – the threshold at which lobbyists must register with Congress.

So, what this effectively does is ensure that we will have more … five times more … lobbiest activity in Washington, not less.

What’s the point?

The real problem is that the Congressional representatives and executive bureaucrats taking money and other goodies in violations of their oath of office. It is very similiar to the drug problem, as long as you have takers you’re going to have suppliers … of money and goodies in this case.

The President’s memo, while well intentioned, I suppose, doesn’t address the root problem and could very well be misapplied to deny legitimate petitions for redress permitted by the Constitution.

3.  Does Obama plan to include the various unions (including the NEA), ACORN, Freddie/Fannie in his clampdown on lobbyist?

Oh wait, they’re already part of his administration.

4.  Oh those poor lobbyists.  Forced to make a written statement posted by the agency about their views.

I love it.  The whole problem is lack of transparency, and if some lobbyist goes in and says this project will cost “smoke and coal company” $300 million, let him explain in writing exactly why. Mostly its because the company is trying to avoid complying with the rules that effect everyone else.
The free speech argument here- what a crock.  Where were these ‘advocates’ when people who disagreed with Bush were not allowed to attend his speeches, rallies or meetings.

I am still believing that this is CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

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