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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Why Not Use Obama’s Unused 2008 Accountability Promises?



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From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Obama’s 2008 Government Accountability Promises Sit, Unkept and Unused

One more stray thought spurred by yesterday’s discussion . . . we on the Right are absolutely correct to call out the Democrats on their double standard. But in the end, we need our own single standard.

You may have noticed I’ve put together recent pieces on the hypocrisy that defines the modern Left. Progressives’ complete disinterest in keeping their promises shouldn’t obscure the fact that in quite a few cases, those promises are pretty appealing and worthwhile in their own right.

President Obama was right when he “entered office promising to limit the practice” of naming campaign donors to plum ambassadorial posts “and instead appoint more Foreign Service professionals to ambassadorial positions.” Sure, he’s completely forgotten than promise, and now more than half our ambassadors are political appointees instead of career Foreign Service. But you know what? It’s embarrassing to have wealthy nincompoops who know nothing about their host country representing this country overseas. The next Republican nominee ought to call out this disgrace, promise to end it, and keep that promise.

Sure, Obama’s loud and oft-repeated pledge to not hire lobbyists in policymaking positions is undermined by more than 100 waivers. But Americans have reason to be wary about cabinet appointees overseeing their old clients and employers.

If the next Republican president pledges to disclose meetings between executive-branch staff and lobbyists, let’s not see the new administration working around the rule by meeting with them at a coffee shop across the street.

Back in 2008, candidate Obama lamented bills rushing through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. Obama said he “will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.” And then he broke that promise, again and again. But that’s not such a terrible policy. Even if the public comment has no impact on the president’s decision to sign a bill into law or veto it, it’s an important symbolic step to emphasize accountability to the public’s views. Point out the broken promise, pledge it again, and keep it this time.

Notice all of these are decisions about the executive branch; no congressional act is needed. No cajoling of the opposition party is needed. All we need is a president willing to make the promise and willing to keep his word, even if it’s inconvenient.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said something interesting while discussing his health-care-reform proposal:

Compared to Obamacare’s baseline, ours reduces premiums by $5,000. His actually took the previous marketplace and increased it by $2,100 for a family. The reality is, our plan, I believe, actually delivers what he promised back in 2008 better than his plan does. In 2008, he talked about the need to reduce health-care costs, he opposed the mandate when Senator Clinton proposed it, and since ‘08 he’s talked about the need to keep your plan and your doctor. His plan doesn’t do those things. Our plan actually does.

The American people are deeply cynical about their government, a sentiment fueled by many, many good reasons. It’s time to get back to basics: tell Americans what you want to do, and then do it. Don’t look for loopholes, excuses, or reasons to blame the opposition. To quote the wise philosopher Daniel Lawrence Whitney . . . “Get ‘er done!”

Maybe a key element of the GOP’s comeback in 2016 will be pledging to keep the promises that Obama broke.


Tags: Barack Obama , Lobbyists , Ambassadors


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