When Vice-President Dick Cheney had private meetings with Oil Company executives (the National Energy Policy Development Group) to help him make recommendations about energy policy, all hell broke loose, Congress even had hearings about the matter, in the end the meetings were kept secret and congress complained:
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. “The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force,” Lautenberg said. Source Wash Post
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who unsuccessfully pushed for details of the meetings, said it is “ridiculous” that it has taken six years to see who attended the meetings. He described the energy task force as an early indicator of “how secretively Vice President Cheney wanted to act.” Waxman said he was not surprised to see the prevalence of energy industry groups on the list of meetings. “Six years later, we see we lost an opportunity to become less dependent on importing oil, on using fossil fuels, which have been a threat to our national security and the well-being of the planet,” he said. Source Wash Post
The purpose and content of these meeting became the target of congress, liberals and there was even a “truther” movement that said these meetings were really brainstorming sessions about how to declare war on Iraq.
Eight years after those Cheney meeting the supposedly transparent Obama Administration is doing the exact same thing. President Obama and VP Biden have been meeting and negotiating with Health Care industry execs and keeping those names and agenda’s secret.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Secret Service seeking records of visits to the White House by top health care executives. The group wants to learn the degree of influence these executives have had, or attempted to have, on the president and his administration in crafting Obamacare. The Administration refused.
That Goes against some of Obama’s election promises where he called for transparency:
- Shine the Light on Washington Lobbying
- Shine the Light on Federal Contracts, Tax Breaks and Earmarks
- Bring Americans Back into their Government
- Free the Executive Branch from Special Interest Influence
It also goes against what the President said during a January 2008 Democratic Debate in South Carolina. Obama promised the reform of health care including the negotiations will be open in a public setting, and not behind closed doors. In fact he said they needed to be open because that’s why Hillarycare was defeated.
The President’s secrecy points to the continuing disparity between his campaign promises and his actions. It also shows the difference in press coverage between the two administrations.
It is interesting that VP Cheney had his meetings in order to come up with a recommendation for congress. Obama is having his meetings to influence the bill while it is being drafted by the legislature in an attempt to have the industry leaders help craft the bill. The makes the President’s broken transparency promise and his rush to a bill even more disturbing.
Interestingly it took the President six months to pick a dog, but he wants congress to draft, debate and pass health care legislation in 4 weeks.