pageok
pageok
pageok
Even Less Sunlight Before Signing:

A few weeks ago, the Obama Administration officially abandoned the President's "Sunlight before Signing" campaign pledge that the White House would post all legislation passed by Congress for at least five days before the President would sign it. In making this announcement, the Administration maintained that it would comply with the spirit, if not the letter, of the original commitment by posting legislation on the White House site once it became clear legislation would eventually pass and make it to the President's desk. This new commitment, they suggested, would actually provide even greater sunlight, as some bills would be available for review earlier and for a longer time. Well, this promise is no longer operative either, as the Cato Institute's Jim Harper details. Since the White House announced its new sunlight policy, nine additional pieces of legislation have been signed into law by the President and yet, as of yesterday, not one had been posted on the White House web site.

Parared:
Hope and Change!
7.11.2009 10:07am
PeteP (mail):
He also promised that all executive orders would be published on the WH website when signed. That lasted, sporadically at best, for about a week.

He made a LOT of promises that got him elected - and he has kept damned few of them. This means his groundswell from 2008 is not going to repeat - he's shedding too many of the fringe groups that grass-rooted for him. Look for strong Republican gains in 2010, and **IF** the Repubs can find someone, ANYONE, half-way credible ( a task that would challenge them today ! ) in 2012, Obama will be a one-termer.

However, given the Republican penchant for putting 'the oldest white guy they have, whoever's been waiting on line for his shot the longest' on the ticket, ala Dole and McCain - Obama may be in like Flynn. Or Flynn may be in like Obama. Or something.
7.11.2009 10:18am
Thalpy:
"Sunlight before signing" what? It's difficult to assess legislation that hasn't been written, and considering the poetic license used when naming most pieces of legislation, there is no way we could make a judgement about the legislation in any case. It's disgusting, but certainly something we should have seen coming our way.
7.11.2009 10:21am
LarryA (mail) (www):
It's not like this would be a hard promise to keep, either. All that's necessary is a link to the final version posted on http://thomas.loc.gov/.
7.11.2009 10:37am
Constantin:
Who fell for this stuff?
7.11.2009 10:52am
Volokh Groupie:
Maybe they just have a really lazy IT staff?
7.11.2009 10:56am
Yossarian:
And I hear cardigan sweaters are becoming all the rage now, too.
7.11.2009 11:12am
Bruce Hayden (mail):
I guess what bothers me here is that there is really no discernible downside to Obama in doing what he promised to do. Sure, Congress, and, in particular, Nancy Pelosi's House, are routinely passing almost trillion dollar bills before anyone has had a chance to read them. We saw this most recently when her Global Warming bill was voted upon before a consolidated bill had been put together. And, I have to assume that the reason that she is doing that, is that any sunlight on much of her actual legislation is likely to be fatal.

But Obama is in a very different position. By the time that he gets a bill to sign, the bill is usually available in some form somewhere so that those who are most interested could find it. Plus, he can take the high road, and sign it into law, despite any qualms, by just including a signing statement, and claiming that this is the best that he is going to get, etc.

So, why doesn't he fulfill one of the easiest of his campaign promises to fulfill? It makes little sense to me.
7.11.2009 11:49am
Owen H. (mail):
Just as an aside, on Whitehouse.gov, the very first piece of legislation linked to is on the Cato list as not linked. It's on the homepage, even. I found another item that is listed as not linked, but it is. And page after page of Presidential Actions, lots of Executive Orders, etc.
7.11.2009 11:57am
ChrisTS (mail):
Owen H. :
Just as an aside, on Whitehouse.gov, the very first piece of legislation linked to is on the Cato list as not linked. It's on the homepage, even. I found another item that is listed as not linked, but it is. And page after page of Presidential Actions, lots of Executive Orders, etc

So, is this story a non-story?
7.11.2009 12:00pm
Owen H. (mail):
I don't know. I also don't know if it is something that really matters to anyone, other than as something to whine about. Personally, posting things for five of the allowed ten before signing merely delays implementing it, nothing more. If you are concerned enough about legislation that you think it is critical to have that, I think you are looking in the wrong in the wrong place. It's not as if this stuff is being kept secret.
7.11.2009 12:06pm
JE:
So, why doesn't he fulfill one of the easiest of his campaign promises to fulfill? It makes little sense to me.


I agree completely. The best explanation I've come up with is that his White House is growing more and more disorganized and chaotic. Which would explain a lot, really.
7.11.2009 12:08pm
Owen H. (mail):
It really seems to me that no one cared about this until Obama was in office. I don't recall huge outcry over not knowing what the Congress was passing, or the President was signing. Perhaps that's because then, like now, legislation is posted online long before it is voted upon. A far more meaningful point at which to interact with our elected officials about it, I might add.
7.11.2009 12:11pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Owen H. --

Candidate Obama made a promise to increase transparency and accountability in government. I think these were good promises to make, and so I'm interested in the extent to which the promises are kept.

As for legislation being on-line before it is passed, as I've documented in prior posts, this is not always the case (see, e.g. Waxman-Markey, of which even the House clerk did not have a complete integrated copy when it was debated and passed). Further, a website listing legislation pending before the President is easier to navigate than a website containing every piece of legislation introduced into Congress. The former allows a lay citizen to know what's up for consideration right now. The latter is primarily useful for those who are looking for specific things.

As for whether some of this legislation has since been posted, I've contacted Jim Harper to get his response, and will post an update when I hear.

JHA
7.11.2009 12:18pm
nicehonesty:
Owen H, the first link on whitehouse.gov right now is a link labelled "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act" under "Featured Legislation". But that is an incredibly misleading link description, as the link simply leads to a rah-rah press release entry on the White House blog.

The blog entry neither quotes the actual legislation nor links to any copy of the actual bill; it does provide links where you can download the text or video of the speech Obama made when he signed it. (Surprisingly, there did not seem to be a link where you could purchase an iPod with Obama's speech pre-loaded onto it.)

You and ChrisTS fell for Obama's smoke and mirrors.

The legislation was not posted.
7.11.2009 12:35pm
John Moore (www):
THe Obama Administration and the Democrats are in a hurry because they are engaged in date rape.

They enticed the populous with a lot of sweet nothings, got them drunk on the euphoria attendant to The Messiah, and now want to get their satisfaction before the victim recovers enough to object.
7.11.2009 12:47pm
Owen H. (mail):
Sorry, it still sounds to me like whining that he's not doing it the way you want him to.
7.11.2009 12:53pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
The thing to do about this it to rub it in the faces of nationally-known persons who promoted this as a selling point for BHO. It's called leverage.

Another interesting thing is that FightTheSmears.com has disappeared. Also interesting is that they were hacked by pills spammers in May/June. I saved off one of the pages, and others might want to save off the rest (since they aren't in archive.org).
7.11.2009 1:04pm
Careless:

Sorry, it still sounds to me like whining that he's not doing it the way you want him to.

So you interpret putting up the name of the bill and a promise that it will do good things for the country to have fulfilled a promise to let people read the text of the bill so they could decide if it's a good thing? The fact that this deliberately hides things like pork when exposing pork was explicitly a reason for the policy doesn't bother you? Are you serious about this?
7.11.2009 1:23pm
Careless:
The second hit for "sunlight before signing" is http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ yet I cannot find the word "sunlight" or "signing" anywhere on the page. Was there something on the subject there in the past?
7.11.2009 1:30pm
Sarcastro (www):
Yes! Obama breaking his promise and continuing with business as usual in Washington isn't just cynical politics, it's RAPE!
7.11.2009 1:38pm
BGates:
I'm unable to defend my God-king, but no one will notice if I use CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!
7.11.2009 1:46pm
nicehonesty:
Careless,

Obama's positions on ethics have mostly been airbrushed out of history, but you can still find caches at the Wayback Machine. Here's the relevant portion from the last version of Obama's Ethics page before it was completely scrubbed:

Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.
7.11.2009 1:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Hey, I'm pissed that Obama broke his promise as well. This is one thing I don't plan on defending my God King from (Peace Be Upon Him). He campaigned on hope and change, and domestically it seems all we got was a reasonably effective liberal leader.

But lets not get all hyperbolic. This is cynical politics, and while it sure doesn't give me much hope for the future, neither is it any worse than the crap DC is used to.]
7.11.2009 1:56pm
guest:
What a surprise. Obama lies, the press covers it up.
7.11.2009 2:28pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
BHO's "five days" promise is actually still on his site (for now):

barackobama.com/issues/ethics/index_campaign.php

That's archived in the "Campaign Issues" section.
7.11.2009 4:23pm
Brian K (mail):
funny...i don't recall too many people complaining when bush broke campaign promise after campaign promise.

it's amazing what a difference having a D in place of an R after your name makes to hack!
7.11.2009 10:41pm
Dave N (mail):
Brian K,

May I presume that you did not criticize President Bush when he broke campaign promises?
7.11.2009 11:42pm
Andrew_M_Garland (mail) (www):
"Do The Right Thing" Bill
=============
Future News:

Congress has debated the "Do The Right Thing" bill for a week, and it is expected to pass today. Senate approval is expected in short order.

A leading Congressman spoke anonymously to avoid "electoral difficulties":

"None of us has read any of the bills this year before voting for them. Or, for that matter, after voting for them. Even the sponsors don't know the contents; this is left to the staff and lobbyists.

We certainly are ashamed. It is clear to all of us that we cannot go on this way. The average bill is now 1,500 pages, and the details of government have gotten out of hand."

'Do The Right Thing' will give us open, consistent, dynamic government. It grants President Michele Obama (now in her 3rd successful term in office) all principles and powers to consider all matters and then "Do the right thing". The Congress retains the important function of advising on the President's actions should she desire this.

The Congress is now free to do what it does best, arrange for hospital admissions and allocate liquor licenses.
=============
7.11.2009 11:52pm
josh bornstein (mail):
Like many of the above posters, I am rather bemused by Obama's failure to live up to this campaign promise. Exactly what *is* the downside to posting the legislation in a timely fashion?

I tend to like Obama on balance. Certainly much more than W. Bush, and (so far) more than Clinton. But I can see why anyone who held the remotest hope that Obama would lead as a true progressive is very disappointed. I sure feel that way.

I don't claim to understand all the subtleties of this issue, but I am as disappointed in this failure as anything else he has done (or not done) so far as president. If he had kept this promise, and we had 4 (or 8) years of true legislative transparency, there is no way that the next president could have 'walked back' this procedure, and I think the voting public would have been better served on an on-going basis. (I want to know how my sausages are made.)

p.s. I hope the more conservative posters here note that A LOT of liberals are disappointed with Obama, and are not shy about posting to that effect. Let's remember that when, in the distant future, President Palin (Jeb Bush, etc) is in office, so we don't have to hear the crap about, "Why didn't you progressives complain back when Obama was prez and he broke some of his promises?"
7.12.2009 3:37am
geokstr (mail):

josh bornstein:
p.s. I hope the more conservative posters here note that A LOT of liberals are disappointed with Obama, and are not shy about posting to that effect. Let's remember that when, in the distant future, President Palin (Jeb Bush, etc) is in office, so we don't have to hear the crap about, "Why didn't you progressives complain back when Obama was prez and he broke some of his promises?"

Josh, if you had paid any attention the last 8 years, you would have noted that conservatives were highly critical of Dubya on a lot of major issues of huge importance to us. Even the Satanic ones, Limbaugh and Hannity, blasted him on overspending, illegal immigration, prescription drug coverage, No Child Left Behind, Harriet Miers, and many others. Most of us were only happy with the tax cuts, Alito/Roberts and his unwavering willingness to take on the Islamists. Other than those few things, he was pretty much a RINO like McCain. Hell, except for the politically motivated "end to the ban on drilling" when it was far too late to actually, like, end the ban on drilling or something, he was even starting to go green on us. In other words, he wasn't nearly conservative enough.

When you say progressives are complaining about Obama, it is for exactly the opposite reason - you think he's not being liberal enough; not spending enough, not taking over enough of the economy, not reducing the military enough, not ending the Iraq war fast enough, not getting rid of Gitmo, not prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes, etc.

However, that being said, I can agree with you on some of these Obama promises - the transparency, the end of corruption, the limitations on lobbying, the new post-racial attitudes he was going to bring, etc,. that Obama promised but it appears never intended to implement at all. If a candidate that conservatives like ever campaigns on issues like this (and they should) that could bring more honesty, honor and integrity to the slimy, sleazy, disreputable way politics is currently played and fails to make a mighty attempt to follow through on them, you'll hear us complaining just as loudly about him/her too on those issues.

I am not certain however, that politicians and parties of all stripes will not use those issues simply to get elected. Unless and until I really hear the "progessive" voices actually being highly critical of Obama for disappointing them on these particular promises, then I just have to assume it was all a cynical game as in politics as usual.
7.12.2009 10:22am
Sarcastro (www):
It doesn't seem geokstr reads this blog, I guess. Or even this thread.
7.12.2009 2:57pm
Brian K (mail):
May I presume that you did not criticize President Bush when he broke campaign promises?

who says i haven't criticized obama? but i guess it is easy to ignore counter examples when you're a hack
7.12.2009 5:27pm
Joan in Juneau (mail) (www):
The broken promises of BHO do matter. He ran on hope and change. Following the policies of predecessors is not change and the bailouts and more taxation of all the people no matter what they call it is not giving me much hope for anything other than hoping to survive the next 3 1/2 yrs. This promise seemed like such a simple one to keep yet has been flushed down the toilet along with the comings and goings at the WH. No change. It doesn't matter the party but we need to start holding all of our representatives accountable to the people that elected them and a huge government I don't believe is the answer. We need responsibility from all of our elected officials and if they say they are going to do something, then that is what I expect from them unless they can give me a good reason for their change. He promised transparency. He lied. Plain and simple.
7.12.2009 6:34pm
Doc Merlin:
Who didn't see this coming? Come on... pfft
7.12.2009 10:06pm
pot meet kettle (mail):
is that crickets i hear chirping, or is that the sound of one of jonathan adler's hands clapping, about cheney breaking the law and keeping congress in the dark while acting as an extraconstitutional authority with the tacit/active approval of the decider? i guess sunlight doesn't need to shine on dark ops?
7.13.2009 5:43pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.