Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say what?!

President Obama on corporate lobbying - just words, just speeches

Quite recently, Barack Obama was full of anger because of the recent decision of the US Supreme Court, which recognized that corporations had the right to criticize his Majesty, the US President and his lackeys in Congress. Reliably liberal yahoo noted - the President "unloaded on a divided Supreme Court for allowing more corporate influence over elections". According to yahoo, Obama shouted at the top of his lungs that "We don't need to give any more voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans. And we don't intend to."

President's side-kick, liberal congressperson Van Hollen followed up with more outrage: "At a time when Americans are more worried than ever that special interests are running the show, this will further undermine their confidence in our democracy."

In short, if corporations are allowed to advertise against the politicians - the sky will fall, and the republic will be no more. I believe it was a mere coincidence that a few days later I was listening to NPR, and this liberal outlet told a rather peculiar story about Obama's relationship with corporate advertising. It is somewhat more nuanced than a reader would realize after listening to our president "unloading" his outrage.

Before the Supreme Court decision, our illustrious President had rather benign (but not advertised) support for the corporate ads - assuming, of course, that the corporations were supporting him. Back in 2009, when Obama was pushing for the government take-over of US medical care, he actually made some interesting deals with corporations.
According to NPR: "One of the things that the pharmaceutical industry promised to do in its deal with Obama was to spend up to $150 million on advertising." "...Tauzin and a number of these board members made this deal [between Obama and pharmaceutical companies], and part of the deal was to spend 100 to $150 million in advertising for a bill [Obamacare] that wound up going nowhere. "

Where did the ad money go? I am glad you asked...

"...the company that was hired to produce the ads and to place the ads was a company that David Axelrod, one of Obama's chief advisors and one of his chief campaign managers, the company that he used to be a partner in. "

"..His company, which still employs his son and still owes David Axelrod $2 million, was the initial company to be hired to place the beginning $24 million in advertising that was spent through to advocacy organizations that were created in a secret meeting between Jim Messina, John Selib, the chief of staff to Max Baucus, and the pharmaceutical industry and a number of other groups."

So, it was openly said that the ads came from the pharmaceutical companies, which were supporting Obamacare? Not exactly.

"Actually, these were run through an advocacy organization called Healthy Economy Now, which included a number of other groups, including labor unions like SEIU and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and they don't have to disclose in their advertising who is paying for these ads. But most of the money came from the pharmaceutical industry and from PhRMA."

In the conclusion of this passage, I will quote our President - Obama's own description of his promises: "Just words, Just Speeches." Nothing to add here, Barry said it all.

The State of Oregon raises taxes in the middle of the recession, and uses money to build a bike path
  Back in early February 2010, the bicycle enthusiasts promoted a plan to build a bike path, which they estimated would cost 630 million dollars. This was mildly surprising, since just a few weeks ago, Oregon bureaucracy promoted a huge tax increases on businesses and individuals under the threat of major cuts in education and police spending. But once those tax increases were approved by the scared public, the government found out that it had enough money for, should we say, more urgent programs than education, and building bike paths was surely most needed by the population. The plan was duly approved by the local government, and then a few days later it was revealed that the actual cost of the bike path was 2.5 times higher. The reason was trivial - the local government "forgot" to include the labor costs in the calculations of the price of the project. Only question bother me now - who is stupid enough to believe the government? 

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