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Blueprint for Change 4

Blueprint for Change 4

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Published by Andrew Kaczynski

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Published by: Andrew Kaczynski on Aug 02, 2012
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 Paid for by Obama for America
“Too often the American people don’t know who Washington is working for, and when they find out, they don’t like what they hear. . . . We’re not going to be able to change America unless we challenge the culture that has dominated Washington for far too long. And that means shining a bright light on how Washington works.” 
[Speech in New Hampshire, 9/4/2007]
Throughout his political career, Barack Obama has been a leader in the fight for open and honest government.As a state senator, Obama passed the toughest campaign-finance law in Illinois history. As a U.S. Senator, hespearheaded the effort to clean up Washington in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. As president, Obamawill restore the American people’s trust in their government by making government more open and transparentand by giving regular Americans unprecedented new tools to keep track of government officials, who they aremeeting with, who is giving them money, and how they are spending taxpayer dollars.
Barack Obama pushed Congress to pass the most sweeping lobbying reform legislation since Watergate. Alongwith Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Obama introduced a bipartisan plan described as the “gold standard forreform.” The ethics package that was signed into law included a number of Obama-Feingold provisions,including bans on subsidized travel on corporate jets, meals and gifts from lobbyists; disclosure of projectearmark sponsors and recipients; and disclosure requirements for campaign contributions that lobbyists“bundle.” As president, Obama will build on these successes to grant the public specific and useful informationabout how lobbyists are trying to influence Washington.
Free the Executive Branch from Lobbyist Influence:
An Obama Administration will work for the people,not the special interests. Obama will:
Close the Revolving Door on Former and Future Employers:
No political appointees in an ObamaAdministration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related totheir prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branchafter leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.
Ban Gifts to Executive Branch Employees:
Gifts from registered lobbyists harm the political processbecause they give lobbyists an avenue for building and maintaining relationships that advance their agendas.As president, Obama will issue an executive order banning registered lobbyists or lobbying firms fromgiving gifts in any amount or any form to executive branch employees.
Free Career Officials from the Influence of Politics:
Obama will issue an Executive Order asking allnew hires at the agencies to sign a form affirming that no political appointee offered them the job solely onthe basis of political affiliation or contribution. The Executive Order will also require that all employeesengaged in and making hiring decisions also certify that they will not take political affiliation into accountas they make hiring decisions for career positions.
 Paid for by Obama for America
Centralize Ethics and Lobbying Information for Voters:
Under current law, enforcement of ethics andlobbying laws is spread widely among a variety of different agencies, which do not frequently work together,and do not provide the public information in an easily accessible format. As president, Barack Obama willcreate a centralized database of lobbying reports, congressional ethics records, and campaign finance filings thatis made available on the Internet in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format, and compiled andmaintained by one agency and under one roof. This database will allow Americans to see easily and in oneplace who their legislators are meeting with; to see who they are collecting money from and how much moneythey are collecting; and to review their ethics records.
Require Independent Monitoring of Lobbying Laws and Ethics Rules:
Currently, Congress polices itself on ethics and lobbying rules, creating a situation where the fox is guarding the henhouse. Obama haschampioned legislation to create an independent and professional enforcement agency to investigatecongressional ethics violations. As president, Obama will continue to fight for passage of this law.
Disclose All Contributions to Organizations Affiliated with the President or Members of Congress:
Theethics reform bill passed by Congress in August only requires disclosure of lobbyist contributions to entitiessuch as presidential inaugural committees, presidential libraries, and foundations affiliated with members of Congress. These contributions should be disclosed whether they’re made by a corporation’s lobbyist or thecorporation’s CEO. For that reason, Obama will work to ensure that all contributions to these types of organizations are fully disclosed to the public.
Every American has the right to know how the government spends their tax dollars, but that information hasbeen hidden from public view for too long. Barack Obama teamed up with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to pass alaw that will lift the veil of secrecy in Washington by creating a Google-like search engine that will allowregular people to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans online. The database – known as “Googlefor Government” – was launched by the Office of Management and Budget in early December and is availableatwww.USAspending.gov. As president, Obama will give voters more tools to track special interest spending.
Create a Public “Contracts and Influence” Database:
The nation’s top government contractors have spentmillions lobbying the government and contributing to federal candidates. Many of these companies go on tocash-in on lucrative no-bid contracts. For instance, Halliburton, the sixth-largest recipient of federal contractshas spent more than $2.8 million on lobbying and $527,800 on political contributions since President Bush took office. As president, Obama will create an “contracts and influence” database which will disclose how muchfederal contractors spend on lobbying, and ensure citizens have easy access to contract details and contractorperformance, such as compliance with federal regulations. Obama’s plan will apply to all contractors thatreceive at least $150,000 in federal funds.
Expose Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny:
Thousands of high-priced lobbyists descend onCongress to try to work special-interest tax breaks for their corporate clients into the tax code. Building on his“Google for Government” bill, which allows every American to do a simple search and see exactly how federalmoney is being spent, Barack Obama will ensure that any tax breaks for corporate recipients – or tax earmarks –are also publicly available by directing the Office of Management and Budget to post them on its website in aneasily searchable format.
End Abuse of No-Bid Contracts:
The current administration has abused its power by handing out contractswithout competition to its politically connected friends and supporters. These abuses cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year. According to a 2006 study by the House Government Reform Committee, federal contractingmushroomed from $203 billion in FY 2000 to $377 billion by FY 2005—an increase of 86 percent. And thevalue of contracts not subject to full and open competition grew from $67 billion to $145 billion during thesame period—an increase of 115 percent. Barack Obama will end abuse of no-bid contracts. He will require
 Paid for by Obama for Americathat all contract orders over $25,000 be competitively awarded unless the contracting officer provides written justification that the order falls within a specified exception and that the requirements and evaluation criteria areclear for every contract.
Sunlight Before Signing:
Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the publichas the opportunity to review them. As president, Barack Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill withoutgiving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days. Inaddition to ensuring that the public has the ability to review legislation, the sunlight will help ensure thatearmarks tucked into appropriations bills are exposed. And Obama will sign legislation in the light of daywithout attaching signing statements that undermine the legislative intent.
Reverse Policy of Secrecy:
President Bush has overseen an unprecedented rise in official secrecy. In 2005, hisadministration classified 14.2 million documents, a fourfold increase since 1995. Bush’s administration hasinvoked the “state secrets” privilege to withhold documents 39 times since 2001. In comparison, at the height of the Cold War, the privilege was only used six times between 1953 and 1976. As president, Barack Obama willreverse this policy of secrecy. He will institute a national declassification center – based upon therecommendation of the Moynihan Commission on Secrecy – with a mission to streamline declassification. TheDeclassification Center will serve as a clearinghouse to set rules and regulations for declassification for federalagencies, and to make declassification secure but routine, efficient, and cost-effective.
People who care deeply about issues in Washington but live outside the Beltway rarely have the opportunity toquestion and interact with government agencies. Messages are filtered through the media, and many times thehard questions are not asked. Barack Obama will bring democracy and policy directly to the people. An ObamaAdministration will:
Hold 21
Century Fireside Chats:
Obama will require his Cabinet officials to have periodic nationalbroadband town hall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.
Make White House Communications Public:
Obama would amend Executive Order 12866 to ensure thatcommunications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White Housestaff are disclosed to the public. The Obama White House would invoke its executive privilege to protect theconfidentiality of communications concerning national security and similar traditionally sensitive matters,not to withhold information about private interests’ communication on regulatory policy.
Conduct Regulatory Agency Business in Public:
Every day, government agencies make decisions thataffect Americans’ lives. These decisions should be informed by public deliberation and input, but at manyagencies, these deliberations are conducted out of the public view. Obama will require his appointees wholead the Executive Branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of theagency in public, so that any citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet as the agencies debate anddeliberate the issues that affect American society.
Release Presidential Records
: Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to bereleased to the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In November 2001, PresidentBush issued an order that gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withholdpresidential records or delay their release indefinitely. As president, Barack Obama will nullify the Bushorder and establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records.
Barack Obama supports public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way toreduce the influence of moneyed special interests. Obama introduced public financing legislation in the IllinoisState Senate, and is the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Feingold’s bill to reform the presidentialpublic financing system. In February 2007, Obama proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the publicfinancing system in the 2008 election. His plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraisingtruce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election.

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