Candidate Obama said he would stop the revolving door between K Street and the executive branch. President Obama has repeatedly claimed he’s kept this promise. He hasn’t. Top Obama appointees have been cashing out since 2009 — White House Counsel Greg Craig left for Goldman Sachs, Budget Director Peter Orszag left for Citibank, Treasury Department bailout captain Jim Millstein is a bank consultant, top green-energy-subsidy official Cathy Zoi went to work for a green-energy investment fund started by George Soros, Agriculture Department appointee Grant Leslie left for the Glover Park Group, and Labor Dept. appointee Oscar Ramirez left for the Podesta Group — that’s just off the top of my head. There are many more.
With Obama’s reelection, Kevin Bogardus at the Hill explains, you can expect a flood of well-compensated cashouts from Obama’s first-term team.
Bogardus explains that Obama’s tough talk on the revolving door, and his much-vaunted executive order on the revolving door, don’t really change the way the game is played:
Several headhunters for law and lobby firms said one thing that won’t work against the job seekers is Obama’s executive order on ethics, which bans former officials from lobbying the administration while he is in office.
“That hasn’t come up once,” Eric Vautour of Russell Reynolds Associates said of the ethics order. “They can still direct those activities. If you’re asking someone to go run a whole department, they can go ask someone to make a call. It’s not that big a deal. Clients recognize that as well.”
While some lobbyists said the lobbying ban could diminish administration officials’ value on K Street, others said it has not been a major factor in assessing recruits from the administration.
The whole piece, as with most of what Bogardus writes, is worth reading, and it corroborates what I’ve been writing for years: Obama’s supposed war on lobbyists was all talk.
But there’s a final point I want to make:
Obama administration officials have spent the last four years increasing the government’s role in the economy: more subsidies, more bailouts, more regulations, more tax complexity, and so on — in banking, in manufacturing, in energy, in medicine, in insurance. The Obama administration will spend the next four years doing the same, in the above fields and more. This heightens the demands for insiders to work as lobbyists. What sort of incentives, then, are in place for government officials?