Change We Can?
Maybe we could, but it’s not taking place. Politics as usual, the return of former government officials who have since become Lobbyists–whether in name or otherwise–and retreaded Clinton Era beauracrats, Obama is falling far short of his lofty goals to radically change the political landscape in Washington D.C.
Former Senator Tom Daschle had to remove his name from consideration after persistent criticism directed at the Obama Administration, with even the left-leaning New York Times calling for his resignation or the appointment being withdrawn.
Troubling for the Ethical Framework that Obama and his people are supposed to be imposing on the Capitol is the fact that Obama had been aware of Daschle’s tax problems for over a month, and decided to stand by his appointee, even after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner faced an uphill climb in being confirmed by Congress.
So far this makes three Obama nominees that have had tax issues, two of which having to resign their appointments. The other was Nancy Killefer, who quietly withdrew a few hours before Daschle, both citing their desire to not become “distractions” for Obama’s young Administration. Killefer was Obama’s pick for “Performance Czar”, and Daschle was slated to become Health and Human Services Secretary, so neither tax issue was necessarily as glaringly hypocritical as Treasury Secretary Geitner, who will in fact be overseeing the very beauracracy that would have, in theory, been the one to punish him for his offenses. Let us not forget Bill Richardson, who had to withdraw his appointment when allegations of bid-rigging during his current tenure as Governor of New Mexico surfaced.
Geitner’s excuse–that he did not understand the tax code or how to properly operate the highly popular computer program “TurboTax”–seems to go counter to the rationale that many on the both sides of the aisle applied to the urgency and necessity in confirming Geitner, that being, “He is the best man for the job, a brilliant Economist with ideas to save this country”. Really? This country might be in a lot of trouble if everyone missed their guess.
The good side, for both Geitner and Daschle, and in the end, probably Killefer, is that none of the three have had to pay penalties or interest on their unpaid taxes, which the average citizen would be forced to do to rectify the situation.
The Era of Responsibility in Washington is off to a dashing start!
President Obama’s appointee for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Leon Panetta, has been outed as a corporate shill who took over $700,000 in speaking and other fees from some of Wall Street’s biggest players in 2008 alone–or former players it should be said, as two of his biggest clients were Merrill Lynch and Wachovia, both of which imploded late in 2008. A third firm, the secretive Carlyle Group, has long been under public suspicion for its heavy investments in the US Arms Industry, lucrative Government Defense Contracts, and influencing officials in capacities in the Executive Branch, Congress, and at The Pentagon. In addition to these relationships, Panetta provided “Consulting Services” to the Pacific Maritime Association, and received payments from Fleishman Hillard, a massive Public Affairs and Lobbying firm.
So, President Obama’s pick for “Head Spook” is himself variously tied to Lobbying and The US Arms Industry.
President Obama’s first day in office, when he made a sweeping series of Executive Orders, one of which, titled “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel” has four items that were themselves quite promising on first blush, but seem to have been tossed on the wayside almost as soon as the ink dried.
“2. Revolving Door Ban All Appointees Entering Government. I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.
“3. Revolving Door Ban Lobbyists Entering Government. If I was a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2, I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment:
(a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment;
(b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or
(c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment.
“4. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government. If, upon my departure from the Government, I am covered by the post employment restrictions on communicating with employees of my former executive agency set forth in section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code, I agree that I will abide by those restrictions for a period of 2 years following the end of my appointment.
“5. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government to Lobby. In addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 4, I also agree, upon leaving Government service, not to lobby any covered executive branch official or non career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Administration.
thedailybeast.com, “What Really Did Tom Daschle In” by Mark McKinnon
(*This article was originally published February 4, 2009 on the Yahoo Contributor Network)