Obama: ‘Army of Lobbyists’ Wields Too Much Power

Posted May 1, 2010 at 5:00am

President Barack Obama on Saturday argued that Democrats’ financial reforms and a campaign finance measure are needed to help curb the outsized sway lobbyists have over Capitol Hill, while Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) continued the GOP’s attacks on the administration’s economic and health care policies.

As part of his weekly radio address, Obama said that legislation making its way through Congress to undo much of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission — which lifted longstanding restrictions on political ad spending by corporations and unions — is central to Democrats’ efforts to reform Washington.

“As we’ve debated reforms to hold Wall Street accountable and protect consumers and small businesses in our financial system, we’ve come face-to-face with the great power of special interests in the workings of our democracy. Of course, this isn’t a surprise. Every time a major issue arises, we’ve come to expect that an army of lobbyists will descend on Capitol Hill in the hopes of tilting the laws in their favor,” Obama said. “That’s why it’s so important that Congress consider new reforms to prevent corporations and other special interests from gaining even more clout in Washington. And almost all of these reforms are designed to bring new transparency to campaign spending.”

Unlike in recent weeks when Obama has used the address to harshly criticize Republicans — in many cases singling out GOP leaders for specific complaints — the president struck a more conciliatory tone, calling for bipartisan support for the legislation.

“What is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an issue that goes to whether or not we will have a government that works for ordinary Americans — a government of, by, and for the people. That’s why these reforms are so important. And that’s why I’m going to fight to see them passed into law,” Obama said.

In his response, Hoekstra reiterated his party’s attacks on the administration and Congressional Democrats’ policies, charging they will result in higher taxes and questioning Democrats’ credibility.

“Democrats have run Congress since 2007, and yet when the residents of Michigan and across America ask themselves, ‘are they better off now than they were four years ago,’ the answer is, inevitably, no,” Hoekstra said.

“Democrats in Washington have repeatedly chosen to go it alone with their partisan, big-government, tax-borrow-and-spend agenda. We saw it with the economic stimulus spending, the cap-and-trade bill, with health care, and now [we’re] seeing it again with the bailout bill President Obama and Democrats are trying to rush through Congress,” he added.

Hoekstra argued that Republicans have put forward a more common-sense approach to addressing the nation’s economic woes, saying, “Enough is enough. We simply can’t go on like this. That’s why Republicans have proposed smart, common-sense solutions to create jobs, reduce spending and clear the way for American opportunity and ingenuity to lead us to a better future,” Hoekstra said.