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U.S. News and Commentary



Tuesday
Dec042012

WaPo bemoans Obama’s failed transparency, catches up to ‘Reason’ and errs on praise 

President Obama has been an epic fail on promises he made about transparency in January, 2009. (Screen snip: TPM video/YouTube)Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who tends not to be quite as enamored of President Barack Obama as others writing for WaPo and many Dem-allied media, did a column about Obama’s failed promises on transparency. Rejoice, small government supporters, but only a little.

After all, it took this paper years to get around to telling you this.

Note that WaPo waited until Obama locked his second term before calling attention to this failed promise. Also note that Republican President George W. Bush was more transparent than the Democrat.

Obama made a big deal about transparency before he was elected the first go ‘round. Despite receiving an award from some seriously questionable self-described “transparency groups,” Obama has been less transparent than the man he routinely blames for whatever goes wrong—Bush 43.

WaPo is just catching up to the libertarian-leaning magazine Reason. In the December, 2012 issue (print) which came out at the beginning of November, Reason associate editor Mike Riggs wrote an in-depth column providing a great deal of data about Obama’s non-transparency.

Riggs listed examples like the denial of 466,872 FOIA requests in the first year of Obama’s presidency. That was an increase of 66 percent over the final year in office for Bush 43.

Penalizing whistleblowers, administration officials meeting lobbyists in coffee shops and communicating with lobbyists on personal email accounts to hide the deeds, and not even allowing reporters at the transparency awards event—Obama has set new standards for hoodwinking Americans about the information we actually pay for and own.

Milbank called attention to a project with a status would see employees fired in the private sector:

[T]he National Declassification Center, which Obama established in 2009, had by the summer of 2012 reviewed only 14 percent of the pages it was assigned to review and declassify by the end of 2013.

Three years and these federal workers got through 14 percent of their assignment? Mediocrity worthy of an out-of-control bureaucracy.

Riggs’ piece in ‘Reason’ is a superior narrative on this subject. Well-written, well-sourced and broadly informative, the feature, Obama: Transparently Disappointing will reaffirm what small government types already believed and perhaps make a small percentage of Obama fans uncomfortable. At least it should make them uncomfortable.

Milbank did mislead, however, in his WaPo column, writing this:

“The Obama administration has, to its credit, made progress in a few areas: releasing more of the White House visitor logs…

Obama released those logs because he had to, not because he wanted to. The watchdog group Judicial Watch has sued for full disclosure of those records. Milbank should temper his praise because the Obama administration waged an ongoing battle to keep the records secret.

Perhaps the most disappointing failure of the Obama administration has to do with a bill that was viewed as essential by Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and outliers. Currently Americans have no way to determine how our tax dollars are often spent. Historically, there has been deliberate obstruction of this information, and not just by Obama. Milbank wrote:

Consider the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, a bill with bipartisan support that would make it easier to track government spending by requiring agencies to report expenditures in a uniform way online. The legislation is so uncontroversial that it passed the House on a voice vote. But the Obama administration raised objections — and the transparency law has yet to see the light of day.

Obviously, this president doesn’t want you to know how much he spends or where he spends. Meanwhile, he’s demanding an income tax increase on top of the 20 tax hikes he pushed through in the ObamaCare Tax Bill and Democrats have no intentions of cutting spending in any significant way.

From the passage of the ObamaCare Tax Bill that Dems didn’t even read before passing, to answers about the deaths of 4 Americans at the Benghazi Consulate, Obama and his party have chosen to obstruct transparency.

Doesn’t sound like a president who deserves a transparency award to me.

For the record, The US Report has complained about lack of transparency in government for years.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 4, 2012)

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