Candidate Obama vs. President Obama on "revolving door" lobbyists

I blogged two months ago about President Obama’s finance/economics advisor Larry Summers' conflicts of interest with failed banks, including Citigroup, that have received hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailouts and will soon receive hundreds of billions more, thanks to the Geithner plan.

Today’s New York Times provides a close-up look at another Summers conflict of interest, the $5.2 million he received and the two years he spent at the giant hedge fund D.E. Shaw.

Professor Summers may very well be an honorable man. He is, by every account, a brilliant man (though I’ve heard him lecture, and he’s not always a brilliant lecturer). But we’re all biased — consciously and unconsciously — by our associations and friendships and backgrounds. Only Dr. Spock could remain objective toward an institution that paid him millions, feted him, flew him around the world in high style and generally treated him like a king.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama swore to the American people that lobbyists “won’t find a job in my White House”:

We have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. …[W]hen I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House. Because real change isn’t another four years of defending lobbyists who don’t represent real Americans — it’s standing with working Americans who have seen their jobs disappear and their wages decline and their hope for the future slip further and further away.

President Barack Obama immediately made a mockery of presidential candidate Barack Obama’s promise by issuing waiver after waiver after waiver. A few of these waivers were legitimate. Advocates of the poor and voiceless who were registered Washington lobbyists deserved waivers. But advocates of the biggest megabanks seeking blockbuster bailouts aren’t “standing with working Americans” but with multinational megabanks seeking to drain taxpayers' bank accounts.

Larry Summers was never a registered lobbyist, so he’s not — technically — an exception to this “rule.” But his story epitomizes this vile revolving door that keeps Washington working for the largest multinational firms and defense contractors and insurance companies against the interests of ordinary Americans. The people appointed to top government posts all too often come from the industries they’re charged with regulating and return to those same companies after “serving the public” in Washington, DC. The revolving door is corrupt. Candidate Obama won public support by promising to shutter the very revolving door President Obama is helping swing open for agents of the largest corporations offering the largest bribes to Washington, DC decisionmakers.

Posted by James on Monday, April 06, 2009