Monday, May 30, 2011

Not All Leaks Are the Same

Republicans are working on multiple fronts to stop President Barack Obama from making companies bidding on federal contracts disclose their donations to third-party political groups.

The chairmen of the House Oversight Committee and the Small Business Committee have introduced legislation that would ban the federal government from collecting or using information about the political expenditures of federal contractors, allowing them to keep their political donations to third party groups secret. Yesterday, the House passed an amendment to the 2012 defense bill which would prevent federal agencies from collecting such data.

Introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) in response to a leaked draft of an executive order the Obama administration was considering which would have mandated federal contractors disclose their donations to third-party groups, the legislation is titled the "Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of 2011." (emphasis added)
~ from House GOP Fights To Keep Federal Contractors' Donations Secret by Ryan J. Reilly ~
There are two ways to look at this story. The first is highlighted by this article on TPM Muckraker. The focus is on the legislation being offered by two conservative Republicans as opposed to the Obama administration's intention for this proposed policy.

I ask you, however, to consider a different scenario. What if the Obama team had no intention of instituting this policy in the first place? How could they insure that it would be undermined?

Answer: By leaking it themselves!

Why would they do THAT, you ask.

It is a tried and true political ploy, particularly during the run-up to an election. Let's say you want to score some points with a portion of your constituency. As a candidate not in office, you can pretty much say whatever you want and then "change your mind" once elected.

This tack is much more difficult to accomplish if you are the incumbent. If you say x or y and then you don't follow up on it, you run the risk of alienating your base. So, you allow some key information to be leaked and then, when you are unable to "implement your plan" due to heavy opposition, you win brownie points for advocating something you had no intention of really implementing.

If we look at the manner in which the Obama administration has bowed down before the corporate gods, this policy is inconsistent with the tenor of his time in office. It goes against the grain. Since the president is running for reelection, the last thing in the world he wants to do is to piss off the very people who will fund that campaign. So, I don't believe for a second he has ANY interest in pursuing this type of disclosure.

This whole thing is nothing more than a big dog and pony show. He merely is pandering for votes from those progressives he has pissed all over during the last two years. The best part is that most of them will fall for it hook, line and sinker!

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