My fellow Democrats and I were sick and disgusted at what we felt was the "Imperial Presidency" of George Bush. Especially galling were the "signing statements" that President Bush claimed allowed him and the Executive Office to ignore the law. Barack Obama made this a centerpiece of his campaign against the Republicans.
And Barack Obama promised a new era in Washington, an era of bipartisanship. Republicans would have a place at the table and all bills would have input from all parties. All ideas would be welcome and we would have compromise instead of gridlock.
Barack Obama made more promises for transparency including posting all bills on line for at least 5 days before signing, no current lobbyists in his cabinet and more. Barack Obama is a great orator and we really did understand his message. He won the election by a modern day landslide.
I'm having a great deal of trouble today finding a single promise Barack Obama has made that he hasn't broken. Not just broken but flaunted. In six short months Barack Obama has made George Bush look like Honest Abe.
The Barack Obama we elected is not the man who is President today.
Immediately abandoned was the promise to post bills on line. In fact, in what has turned out to be the biggest lie in legislative history, Obama demanded Congress quickly pass and he quickly sign the Economic Stimulus Act, a pork barrel filled gift to lobbyists and supporters that has put the country deeply in debt. Now, six months later there is no stimulus and only a scant 10% of the money has been spent. There most certainly were five days available to post that turkey on line! As it turns out almost no bills have been posted on line for taxpayer review.
Exemption after exemption allowed lobbyists to fill the Cabinet. But what is much, much worse is the thirty plus CZARS who are actually responsible for everything from soup to nuts. None need be approved by Congress and several are radical zealots who aren't remotely qualified for the positions they hold. Some are downright scary characters. For example, consider Van Jones, the newest Environmental Jobs Czar, a religious and social fanatic.
Even more tragic is Obama's immediate implementation of "signing statements," which has really earned the ire of Democrats in Congress. The Associate Press reports:
|President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same.|
House Democrats on Tuesday said they were "surprised" and "chagrined" by Obama's declaration in June that he doesn't have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Earlier in his six-month-old administration, Obama issued a similar statement regarding provisions in a $410 billion omnibus spending bill. He also included qualifying remarks when signing legislation that established commissions to govern public lands in New York, investigate the financial crisis and celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday.
"During the previous administration, all of us were critical of (Bush's) assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of congressional statutes he was required to enforce," the Democrats wrote in their letter to Obama. "We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude."
If Congress can't place conditions on the money, "it will make it virtually impossible to provide further allocations for these institutions," they wrote.
While these are troubling signs, what has concerned me the most is his virtually total failure to even attempt to work on legislation in anything remotely resembling a bipartisan way. Instead the leadership in the House and Senate have completely shut out all Republican and even moderate Democrats from the legislative process. Bills are crafted in secret. Republicans are not allow to attend these sessions. Then Pelosi and Reid decry the lack of Republican support even though they are the total cause of the Republican alienation.
Barack Obama could put a stop to this with one single phone call. It's a call he has not made.
The tragedy is the proposed Health Care Reform Legislation. With the Insurance Companies and most Republicans FIRMLY on board for reform, this could have been Obama's finest moment. He is allowing EXTREME PARTISANSHIP to potentially scuttle the potential cornerstone of his young administration.
Later today or tomorrow I will post a special entry on the blueprint for real Bipartisan Health Care Reform that is already on the table from Republicans AND the Insurance Companies.