Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Bonuses and Transparency

Remember when both Obama and the Democrats promised transparency? That was supposed to include posting legislation to the Internet days in advance of voting on it. It was also supposed to match amendments to sponsors.

Remember when the final version stimulus bill reached Congress? It was over 1,000 pages long. It arrived after midnight and was voted on around noon the next day. No one voting on it had a chance to read it - it was too urgent for Congress to know what they were approving (that was on a Friday - Obama waited until the following Tuesday to sign it).

Now, a month later we are finding out what was in that bill - or, in this case, was not in the bill. A cap on bonuses had been added into the bill with wide approval but it vanished in conference. Chris Dodd sort of confessed to allowing his staff to remove it at the urgings of the Treasury Department. There are a lot of rumors about who was actually responsible. It doesn't help that Dodd received a large campaign contribution from AIG.

Obviously this is not the hope and change that was promised. Arianna Huffington herself is upset about how this was handled.
This mirrors the legislative slaying of the similarly intended amendment co-sponsored by Sen. Wyden I write about below. The culprit behind the killing of the Wyden provision remains unsolved -- but Dodd fingering Treasury adds weight to Wyden's sense that members of Obama's economic team were behind the elimination of his amendment. And, in both cases, major decisions involving taxpayer money were carried out in a way that flies not in the face of fairness, but in the face of the administration's promises of transparency and accountability.

The honeymoon is definitely over.

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