Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 28, 2009

OBAMA TO LOBBYISTS: BRING IT ON.... President Obama made a pitch for his budget proposal in his weekly address, and positioned himself nicely as "a threat to the status quo in Washington." The NYT described the president as casting himself as "a populist crusader willing to do battle with special interests to expand health care, curb pollution and improve education," and that sounds about right.

After touting the virtues of his plan -- on taxes, energy, healthcare, and education -- Obama acknowledged all of the many interests that aren't going to be pleased: "I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries."

And then the president's rhetoric took on a more confrontational tone: "...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. 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."

Works for me.

The "so am I" rhetoric is less than subtle. There's going to be a fight over the direction of the country, and the president is signaling his intention to mix it up a bit. This is a different message than the one preceding the debate over the economic stimulus, and may reflect the White House's judgment that the administration was not as aggressive as it could (should?) have been in mounting a defense.

It also reinforces a subtle point from Obama's address to Congress this week, pre-emptively tackling the arguments likely to come from detractors. By characterizing his opponents -- not Republicans, but special interests -- as agents of the status quo, the president is laying the groundwork for the rest of the debate. When we hear conservative talking heads on the cable channels, we're supposed to see them as "the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business," while Obama and his allies are delivering on much-needed change.

The president seems to like his chances. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 12:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea... I know that banks and big student lenders... I know that oil and gas companies won't like

And after receiving so many billions of dollars, the insurance industry, and banks had better not even think of spending money on lobbying. Meanwhile, by being so closely associated with Bush, Cheney, Iraq, and huge profits while gas prices were so high for the last few years, the oil companies will make a very useful foil. Republicans, choose your weapon.

Posted by: Danp on February 28, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

President Obama knows that the time is right to change the status quo. What moral ground can the powers that be stand on? What financial resources can they use, especially since the Feds are the ones propping many of them up?

Under W, the Powers THAT BE got everything they wanted and they FUCKED it up large. Ruined the world's economy in the process while weakening/ruining their own financial positions (drained the swamp if you will.)

I think that Obama knows AND understands there is a large undercurrent of dissatisfaction among ordinary Americans about what has gone on for too long. He is about to tap into that dissatisfaction which is across the political spectrum and it looks like he is going to use it.

Just pretty damned brilliant on Obama's part.

Posted by: Former Dan on February 28, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

How does this preempt Newt Gingrich's Bush-Obama framing?

Posted by: Micheline on February 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

"A populist crusader."

Please.

Posted by: George on February 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no! Kumbaya! When will the president learn that Republicans are NOT his friends!! If we don't get everything in the stimulus bill, we'll never see another bill again!!!

Darn you koolaid drinkers for not opposing him as much as I do!!!!!

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on February 28, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

How does this preempt Newt Gingrich's Bush-Obama framing?
Posted by: Micheline on February 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK


It doesn't have to. Newt has been irrelevant for a long time. His predictable republican rhetoric that you call 'framing' is worn out. And most of America knows it. Most of America wants to stop the insane siphoning of time and money that has been the status quo for the last decade in Washington.

That's why Obama won in what politicos recognize as a landslide.

Posted by: jcricket on February 28, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

President Obama! You be da man! You be da man!

Finally, gonna kick some special interest, insurance/oil company ass. Gonna take some friggin names. Then gonna send out some slum love to the children and the regular working people. It's gonna be of the heezy fo sheezy my neezy.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 28, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

How does this preempt Newt Gingrich's Bush-Obama framing?
Posted by: Micheline

Because the spending now taking place is for the American people (even those who do not like it), i.e., the following framing by Obama:

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.

Gingrich can keep framing Bush-Obama spending but as things eventually start to normalize (who knows what this even means anymore - more jobs, more stable markets, etc.), it will only serve to further prove that supply-side, for-the-rich-only, trickle-down bullshit rhetoric is just that; bullshit rhetoric.

Posted by: MsJoanne on February 28, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh thank you God! Finally, someone that will stand up to big business and put them in their place. Now we just have to enact monopoly-busting legislation to keep corporations from ever doing this to our country again.

Posted by: Cleo on February 28, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The "so am I" rhetoric is less than subtle.

A typical Benen-style understatement. It isn't subtle *at all*! ^_^

Posted by: Shade Tail on February 28, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I read the address before I listened to it. The words struck me as very strong and I felt like cheering. The tone of the spoken version was somewhat softer, more matter of fact than belligerent. It was good to hear a strong message without the bravado that we saw often with Bush.

Posted by: Iowan on February 28, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

" They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match."

Brings back good memories...

Posted by: An Old Friend on February 28, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Old Friend,

Today is not the first time that I felt Obama must be either channeling that great American or is a full reincarnation.

I now understand how my grandparents felt about their president.

Posted by: jcricket on February 28, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"I work for the American people."

I haven't heard a more inspiring statement of principle from a US President since the 1960's!!

Bravo, Mr Obama.

Posted by: sidewinder on February 28, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

In a wag-the-dog vein, the status quo of recent past could never of kept going, the wheels were coming off. When it was obvious to those paying attention to how the November election was going to turn out, "we the people" have been experiencing a scorched earth attitude from the big players that will continue for some time. The race to the bottom is on. Obama is right in positioning the big pieces when everything gets flung in the air. This is exciting times, hang on and support a man of vision. Write your representatives especially if they have blinders on.

Posted by: Kevin on February 28, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

it will exceptionally difficult for Obama to succeed without Big Media having been taken down first.
.

Posted by: pluege on February 28, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa.

I've been railing against our government for the rich and nothing but the rich so help us god for so long that it's refreshing to realize our POTUS understands what a government for the people by the people looks like.

I have lobby-ist friends, I actually have a federal security clearance, yet I am deeply grass-roots oriented.

To reach a future 50 years from now, we have to start living it now.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 28, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think what you see in President Obama's rhetoric is exactly that. The media is the conduit through which his words travel; by initiating the discourse and framing the language to his advantage he structurally shapes how the media function, in particular the stenographers and bobbing heads. Also, and the importance of this cannot be overstated, he's showing serious cajones, large brass ones. THIS - will in itself be enough to influence a large percentage of Americans to 'know' intuitively that he can be liked and trusted. The man's got his eye on the ball.

Posted by: Conrads Ghost on February 28, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

it will exceptionally difficult for Obama to succeed without Big Media having been taken down .

Obama is speaking over the heads of the media, directly to the American people and seizing the populist mantle. He needs to keep doing this, because the media won't give up their GOP talking points. Well played, Mr. President!

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 28, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

it will exceptionally difficult for Obama to succeed without Big Media having been taken down.

Big Media is in a flux of change right now. Look at all the newspapers that are going out of business. Network news is out, and cable news is recognized more and more as an entertainment forum. More and more people on this planet are getting their news from the internet, and this trend is growing not shrinking. Obama is already ahead of the curve on this one.

He ain't no dummy.

Posted by: jcricket on February 28, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

A much sharper populist edge this week. The CBS Affiliate in Chicago broadcasts these addresses every Saturday. It was funny listening to the usually idiotic announcer have to mouth his words about "special corporate interests", etc.

Posted by: leo on February 28, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think he realized that at least for now, these forces are NOT good faith actors. "For the good of the country" means little to them.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 28, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Playboy, of all things, has an interesting article online that alleges that Rick Santelli's rant, far from being a spontaneous, impromptu venting of righteous indignation, may in fact be part of a tightly-choreographed and long-planned astroturfing campaign funded primarily by the superwealthy Koch family to fight Obama's tax policies.

http://www.playboy.com/blog/2009/02/backstabber.html

Posted by: bluestatedon on February 28, 2009 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries."

From Charles Drevna, top lobbyist for the 'National Petrochemical and Refiners Association':

"We're a little bit disappointed in the tone. We believe that we are part of the solution, but this seems to suggest that we're part of the problem."

YOU ARE !

Hit 'em again, hit 'em again, harder, harder !

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 28, 2009 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

"so am I"

And I'm right there with you Mr. President. By the way, we haven't had a President like you in my lifetime. Thanks for that too!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on February 28, 2009 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

bluestatedon - My 26 year old son called me a couple of hours ago to crow that he really does buy it for the articles.

Posted by: Blue Girl on February 28, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

This is a different message than the one preceding the debate over the economic stimulus, and may reflect the White House's judgment that the administration was not as aggressive as it could (should?) have been in mounting a defense.

We all still continue not to "get it." Listening to this morning's speech, I suddenly realized that - as had been true in the campaign - Obama is six moves ahead of the rest of us. All these things that we have all been complaining about have been Obama "preparing the battlefield."

80+% of the American people think Obama wants to do the right thing with the crisis. 67% think he was the one who tried to be "bipartisan," and only 32% think the Republicans tried.

It is clear now to the American people who The Enemy is, and it's an enemy that is confused (witness the CPAC circus) and morally tainted (all the wrongwing nuts who say don't take the money from the stimulus, screw the people who are unemployed, etc.) - they are now unable to know from which direction Obama is going to come, they cann ot defend in any direction.

They're going to be run from the field like the French Army running from the blitzkrieg in 1940.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 28, 2009 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that this is in part a pre-emptive strike against public opposition to his proposals, most of which will come from Republicans/conservatives. However, I think it also represents a warning to those Democrats that are also beholded to these special interests that they had better get with the program.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 28, 2009 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I saw a great poster that just fits this situation and I wish there were someway that I could show it here. It shows Pres. Obama looking right at the camera and above it says, "CHILL THE F__K OUT!"
Below it says, "I GOT THIS!"

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 28, 2009 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Now that we have been celebrating, we better think about how we are going to support him. He can't do this on his own. He needs help doing the heavy lifting, so each of us had better put his/her shoulder to the wheel and get to shoving. Our country is like an old heavily loaded Conestoga wagon that got stuck in three feet of mud, and we better be able to push it out. HARAMBEE!!!

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 28, 2009 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

"My 26 year old son ... really does buy it for the articles."

Ha... they were using that line when I was a kid, but in this case, it seems like Playboy is doing the job that the MSM won't do... Maybe I'll have to finally buy an issue.

Posted by: bluestatedon on February 28, 2009 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Texas Aggie: Here it is. That t-shirt ended up in my laundry some time right before the election, and I have no idea where it came from. Nonetheless, my four year old grand daughter snagged it for a nightshirt because she is nuts about Barack Obama and shushes anyone who dares to talk over him if he is on teevee or the radio.

bluestatedon: They do some good reporting. I remember walking into my husband's shop once during Global Shield and hearing an airman say "Captain, you better stash that. You're wife's coming." I walked in and looked over at him and said "What's the centerfold this month?" He didn't even look up. "I have no idea, but this article kicks ass." The kid who called to crow is the one who first called the Santelli-types "teabaggers" and I promptly stole it.

Posted by: Blue Girl on March 1, 2009 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

"...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. 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.

Back in 2007, some guy named Edwards was saying things like that. I don't know whether Obama is just now figuring it out, or whether he agreed all along, but figured that saying so too soon wasn't the best way to win the war.

Either way, I'm all for it.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on March 1, 2009 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

Ignore this comment. I'm just trying to learn how to link

Posted by: jfs on March 1, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

He's saying that with the Obama/Pelosi team spending trillions, there is so much pork being spread around that lobbyists are superfluous.

Posted by: Luther on March 2, 2009 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly