Obama has a mixed result on his promises to make government more transparent. Over at PolitiFact, of the 35 promises that Obama made relating to government transparency, they rate only five completely kept, three more kept but with some compromises, and 15 in the works, while six of them are rated as broken, and six more as stalled.
Republicans took advantage of this in their “Pledge to America”, bashing Democrats for limiting openness and debate” during the legislative process, and promising to “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square”. The Pledge also promises that the GOP “will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government”. When John Boehner recently took the helm of the House, he said “Above all else, we will welcome the battle of ideas, encourage it, and engage in it—openly, honestly, and respectfully.”
So should we be surprised when last week, Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip, announced plans to eliminate the Presidential Election Fund (you know, where on your income tax form you can donate three dollars to the presidential election). This fund was introduced after the Watergate scandal (because Nixon was caught receiving illegal campaign funds from big corporations), and has been highly successful — every presidential candidate from the two major parties since then has opted into the public financing system, with the exception of Obama.
There is widespread agreement among both parties that the public financing system needs updating, and there have been several bills — sponsored by Congressmen in both parties — to reform it, but scrapping it would only give big corporations even more power in presidential elections by making them the overwhelming source of money in our increasingly expensive elections.
But the real hypocrisy is that the GOP is trying to pass this bill with no transparency at all. No hearings have been held, nor has a single committee in Congress even discussed the bill. So after pledging “openness and debate” and promising that bills will be “debated and discussed in the public square”, just a few days after taking power in the House they are going back on this promise entirely and instead are doing a secretive end run.