Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama vs. Lobbyists

"I am ready to fight."

I remember when many during the primaries fights thought Obama was not tough enough. I never did. Though I did not like many of the Clinton shenanigans during the primary war, I never thought Obama was not tough enough. He is and he was. The man is from Chicago politics, the street fighting kind. If you can't deal, fight or maneuver in Chicago you will get your lunch eaten.

Much of Obama's agenda is what he campaigned for during the election cycle. Much of the Republican upheaval is that the public voted for this agenda. Remember Obama won by 7 points, this was no win by a state, this was a change election, mandate election. That is the uphill climb for the Republicans, times are tough for millions of Americans and the last eight years did not help the many who ended up switching from the Republicans to voting Democrat.

Change. That means lobbyists, too.

Lobbyists were the number one vocal point during the Obama Campaign, BEFORE the first vote was cast in the Iowa Caucuses. The lobbyists never imagined Barack Obama would assume the presidency. They could deal with a Hillary Clinton or John McCain in the White House, primarily because they took their money for their campaigns. Obama did not take the money from K Street and once he became the Democratic Nominee this was an uphill battle for these lobbyists.

K Street has been given open access, helped craft legislation to help their clients for years on the hill, but not more prominently that during the Bush boom. The bad thing about this is that not all lobbying is bad, there are many organizations, many non-profit organizations that lobby but since the Jack Abramoff scandal the word "lobby" has been tainted badly. The Abramoff scandal let the American public see the many deals that were cut in the back room, not for the benefit of the public, become revealed in the front room. Much was illegal, unethical and even immoral and the Republicans suffered partly for it at the ballot boxes in 2006, with many Republicans ending their careers in scandal or a prison cell dealing with Abramoff.

This is what Obama campaigned against. Corruption of K Street. Now the fight is on.

K Street will not give up an inch, it means money and power. They have not been invited to the table, yet. Remember in politics, yet is a word never far away. The word healthcare is scary to K Street. It means reeling in all the players to the table and opening up honest dialogue about the lack of access in this country to millions of Americans that need it. As college for young folk is becoming inaccessible, healthcare in this country is becoming access for those who have money and non-access if you don't.

As we watch all this unravel, remember what Obama told the public this week and in his weekly address today:

"The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long," Obama said in his weekly radio and video address. "But I don't. I work for the American people."


"I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight," Obama said, using tough-guy language reminiscent of his predecessor, George W. Bush. "My message to them is this: So am I."

Those words are powerful. It was the American people that put him in office to fix the catastrophe that the Bush Administration left. It is the American people that are sick and tired of the rich getting richer, middle class evaporating and the underclass in poverty row. People don't believe in the "rich makes jobs" any longer. They had opportunity to do so and many shipped the jobs overseas for tax breaks and to layer their own bank accounts. That argument is moot. This public is angry that rich folk have destroyed the banking industry, that the SEC knew about Madoff running around milking folks while doing nothing about it, and they are left paying for all of this. The public is mad. They don't want any fatcats telling their sob stories because they lost some money, what about them?

The American public has not had a president working for them for a very long time. To be frank, it is refreshing to have a president tell K Street that he is ready to fight, to let the public know what is coming, and have the PEOPLE line up behind him.

That is change that K Street will have to believe in, eventually.