Today in his Presidential YouTube video, President Obama threw down the gauntlet against the lobbyists he vowed would not run his administration during the campaign. In his remarks, the President stated:
I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:
So am I.
Well, according to The Hill, the lobbyists are not happy, at all:
Big business, which had largely backed the president’s stimulus plan, this week quickly turned against his budget proposal, which includes a number of tax increases on higher wage-earners, farms and companies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the plan moved "exactly in the wrong direction."
Oil and gas, chemical, electric utility and farm lobbies in particular felt singled out for having to pay for Obama’s ambitious plans on health care, education and energy.
Of course our pals in the P.O.N. (formerly known as the G.O.P.) are doing everything within their now very limited power to keep Pres. Obama's policies from becoming a reality:
On Friday, the leadership sent Mr. Obama a letter urging him to use his first veto on the $410 billion spending bill and the 9,000 earmarks it includes if it clears Congress in its present form.
"Republicans want to work with you to bring spending-as-usual to a halt in Washington and to impose a new standard of bipartisan fiscal discipline that reflects the sacrifices being made by families and small businesses across America," the letter said.
Apparently, they are trying to drive a "wedge" between Pres. Obama and Speaker Pelosi. (good luck with that)
So what are the lobbyists complaints?
"Obama looks like he’s trying to kill the oil and natural gas industries in the U.S. It just boggles my mind," said [Bruce] Vincent[, president of Swift Energy, a Houston-based oil and gas company], who is also the vice chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
"I don’t mind sharing the burden," Vincent said. "But they take everything away from the industry that allows us to recover our costs." Executives from 50 IPAA member companies are coming to town next week to lobby against the budget proposal.
Personally, I find it a bit hard to be sympathetic to oil and gas companies who seem to be the only ones doing well in this economy.
Farm groups also took issue with the president’s budget. Obama’s call to end direct payments to farms that earn more than $500,000 a year prompted attendees at a National Corn Growers Association convention this week to ask, "What the hell is going on?" according to Jon Doggett, a lobbyist for the group.
"There is a lot of concern. A lot of questioning about what it really means," Doggett said. He said the farm bill Congress passed last year should be implemented before payment rules are changed again.
Now, I'm no expert on agricultural issues, but could the call to end direct payments to farms making over $500,000 a year be a way for him to help out the small family farms? I don't think Pres. Obama has something against farming because, then Senator Obama, did support the Farm Bill that was passed last year:
The man McCain is likely to face in the November election, Democrat Barack Obama, embraced a different set of priorities.
"By opposing the bill, President Bush and John McCain are saying no to America's farmers and ranchers, no to energy independence, no to the environment, and no to millions of hungry people," argued Obama.
"The bill places greater resources into renewable energy and conservation. And, during this time of rising food prices, the farm bill provides an additional $10 billion for critical nutrition programs. I am also pleased that the bill includes my proposal to help thousands of African-American farmers get their discrimination claims reviewed under the Pigford settlement," said Obama.
Upon reading that article from The Nation, I'm right about him wanting to protect small family farms:
"This bill is far from perfect," the senator from Illinois admits. "I believe in tighter payment limits and a ban on packer ownership of livestock. As president, I will continue to fight for the interests of America's family farmers and ranchers and ensure that assistance is geared towards those producers who truly need them, instead of large agribusinesses. But with so much at stake, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good."
Chemical companies are mad too:
Dooley said his group held a "strong objection" to the new tax because it would apply to "all chemical manufacturers ... regardless if there is any connection to a Superfund site." He estimated the tax could cost chemical companies up to $450 million a year.
But again, it shouldn't be a surprise:
Control Superfund Sites and Data: As president, Obama will restore the strength of the Superfund program by requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites they created.
The companies are mad they are going to have to actually pay to clean up the messes they created? Here's an idea, DON'T MAKE THE MESS!
and finally the electricity people:
And Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, said his group objected to a cap and trade program included in the budget that would auction off emissions allowances to companies, instead of giving some credits away free in an effort to minimize the costs of the carbon cap.
"We think that a full auction approach would put electricity customers more at risk," Owen said. The budget assumes revenues of $645 billion between 2012 and 2019 from the sale of emission allowances.
For his part, it seems once again the President Obama is doing stuff he promised to do when he was running for President:
On the cap and trade auctions:
Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
The Obama-Biden cap-and-trade policy will require all pollution credits to be auctioned, and proceeds will go to investments in a clean energy future, habitat protections, and rebates and other transition relief for families.
In fact, he's been talking about the cap and trade auctions since at least October 2007. So they can either shell out the money, or find a way to pollute less. Sounds like a win-win for us to me.
I can't help but wonder where the surprise seems to be coming from. The budget Pres. Obama proposed, much like his withdrawal from Iraq, is full of stuff he PROMISED to do during the campaign.
From today's address:
The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don't. I work for the American people. I didn't come here to do the same thing we've been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November.
So it's going to be a fight, but I think our President is prepared to bring the gun to the knife fight and get his budget passed to enact that change we are all supposed to believe in. I have a feeling President Obama will come out on top here because he'll definitely have the backing of a majority of the American people when it comes to fighting special interests, and Congress will be forced to listen to its constituents.