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Obama: More of the same

March 14, 2011 - Mike Maneval
An Associated Press story in Sunday's Sun-Gazette reflects troubling trends with the Obama administration. The administration rebuffed requests by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for records regarding the development and passage of the health care reform package passed in 2010. The records concern, among other things, meetings between White House officials and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry.

Could the unreleased reams of information contain details on whether patenting-law changes made by the Reagan administration responsible for exorbitant pricing were ever challenged by administration officials? Or would the now-secret information indicate White House staff were too deferential to challenge the tilting of the marketplace to manufacturers' advantage? While some of the Republicans seeking the documents' release certainly are interested in cherry-picking the most damaging tidbits for Democrat-bashing soundbites, the American voter still deserves to know the answer to these two questions.

President Obama has fallen short of his campaign rhetoric in a myriad of ways - all politicians do. On many of the matters, matters mostly of policy such as detentions of foreign nationals, tougher scrutiny of NAFTA, and the consumer mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance, his shifts could be portrayed by his most steadfast supporters as a willingness to approach governing in a more open-minded and less stubborn manner.

But on matters like the Obama White House's lackadaisical and unfocused commitment to better transparency, as well as the inclusion of lobbyists on his staff, his shift in position looks less like a repudiation of the stubbornness for which his predecessor was frequently criticized. Instead, it looks like acceptance of a business-as-usual cynicism for which three or four of his immediate predecessors were - rightly - criticized.


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