Monday, June 1, 2009

Obama Backtracks on Pledge to Keep White House “Free of Lobbyist Influence” as All Federal Employees Become Lobbyists for General Motors

Washington, D.C.--President Obama, who pledged during the campaign to keep his administration free of influence by lobbyists, has had to backtrack from that commitment after the White House takeover of General Motors made all federal government employees lobbyists for the auto company.

Now that the U.S. government owns GM and will simultaneously serve as its regulator, tax collector, customer, and lender, the entire federal workforce must now devote itself to helping ensure that government regulatory, tax, sales, and lending policies support the interests of its own bankrupt company. As one Treasury official said, “That requires a lot of lobbyists, so it’s all hands on the deck of the Titanic.”

Commerce Department employees will focus on lobbying for less stringent fuel efficiency standards that would help GM sell more of its most profitable full-size trucks and sports utility vehicles. At the same time, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency will lobby for stronger fuel efficiency standards. Treasury Department employees will lobby for rules that maximize the company’s chances of providing a better return on investments, while lobbyists at the Internal Revenue Service will seek changes that generate more taxes to prop up the failing company. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will lobby for more GM factories overseas, which the Labor Department will lobby against.

White House officials said the massive, cross-purpose lobbying effort would require extensive oversight, with press secretary Robert Gibbs telling reporters the President intends to appoint a “lobbying czar.”

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