Legislative Lowdown: Obama guilty of contempt for transparency

President Obama promised “an unprecedented level of openness in government.” Instead, he has revealed an apparent contempt for transparency.

The president has caused a storm of controversy by using executive privilege to cover up aspects of his administration’s Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed a contempt of Congress resolution to be considered by the full House of Representatives next week. If this resolution passes, it will be the first time in our nation’s history that an attorney general has been held in contempt of Congress.

At the same time, there is emerging evidence that the administration leaked classified information on the Stuxnet Iranian nuclear program attack, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and drone operations in an effort to prove that President Obama is strong on national security.

When he was running for president, Obama argued that “the issue of executive privilege is subject to abuse, and in an Obama presidency what you will see will be a sufficient respect of the law.” As we now know, Obama was prepared to promise anything to the American people to get elected.

It’s clear that President Obama doesn’t have the power to use the pretext of executive privilege to shield wrongdoing. At any point he can waive executive privilege in the name of transparency.

Ron Johnson’s idea

This week, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) offered an amendment to the farm bill that would have separated the food stamp portion of the bill. Right now, there is an axis of spending set up between farm state senators and welfare-state supporters that will pass a bloated farm bill dominated by food-stamp spending. Johnson’s amendment was an attempt to single out food stamps for reform.

The vote separated the squishy Republicans from the tea party-minded members. The amendment failed on a 40-59 vote, with Republican Sens. Scott Brown (MA), Thad Cochran (MS), Susan Collins (ME), John Hoeven (ND), Richard Lugar (IN) and Olympia Snowe (ME) betraying the tea party with a vote to preserve the alliance between big-government liberals and free-spending farm-state Republicans.

This legislation started out at a cost of $969 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with a price tag for food stamps of $750 billion. The food-stamp provision alone dwarfs the whole price tag for the last farm bill in 2008, which cost $604 billion. The food-stamp program, the fourth-largest welfare program on the books, has doubled in size since President Obama took office and is in dire need of reforms.