My Latest

Friday, March 27, 2009

The corporate myth of free trade

"Free trade" the a top exporters' lobbyist recently told me, "is a theoretical construct. What we’re talking about is practical business transactions.”

My Examiner column argues that "free trade," especially in this age of bailouts, often means "whatever is best for business."
Last November, weeks after bailing out Wall Street and while pushing a $34 billion bailout for U.S. automakers, President George W. Bush, signed an agreement with other world leaders proclaiming, “we underscore the critical importance of rejecting protectionism and not turning inward in times of financial uncertainty.”
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

EPA finding on greenhouse gases puts pressure on climate lobby

My K Street page in today's Examiner includes this noteworthy Bloomberg story:
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed declaration that greenhouse gases pose a health danger will ratchet up pressure on Congress and the burgeoning climate-change lobby to pass new limits on emissions.

Worn Down by Feds, Whole Foods Turns to Lobbying

Whole Foods was one of three companies this past weekend to float a compromise on the "card-check" bill to make unionization easier. My Examiner column today explores Whole Foods' progression from a company that eschewed government to a player in the lobbying game:
Whole Foods was a little like Microsoft — before Congress and the Federal Trade Commission made a whipping boy of Bill Gates. Until last year, Whole Foods had never hired a lobbyist and never lobbied the federal government. And, as with Gates, the catalyst seems to have been aggressive federal intervention in Mackey’s business.
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama Cracks Up

My second piece in the New York Post is up, recounting Obama's worst week to date:
The AIG bonuses, alienating our allies, that Special Olympics crack on "The Tonight Show there's certainly plenty of competition, but this was probably the worst week of President Obama's nascent administration.

The problem wasn't just bad decisions followed by rash reactions and changing stories. The mistakes, oversights, cover-ups, and bad press of this past week all hit Obama in the most sensitive spots, undercutting the pillars on which he had built his rare transpartisan appeal.

Read it here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama food policy may mean end of farmers markets, family farms

Michelle Obama is planting a vegetable garden on White House grounds, but her husband may be salting the fields of small farmers with a food-safety bill. My Examiner explains.

President Barack Obama made some foodies’ hearts melt on the campaign trail by referring to writer Michael Pollan, who has helped spark a revival in local, unprocessed food. But Obama’s push for strict new federal food-safety regulations could drive organic food and farmers markets into the back alleys.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, touted as a consumer protection bill, is backed by the giants of the affected industries, such as General Mills and the National Restaurant Association, while posing possibly lethal threats to smaller market players like family farms and local produce.
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Obama era brings boom times for lobbyists

Is Obama good for the lobbying industry? My Examiner column looks at the numbers that say
Yes.Early numbers suggest that the first quarter of 2009 has seen lobbying in the nation’s capital spike by nearly 22 percent over last year, which would be the largest ever increase in lobbying activity — and a strong indication that President Barack Obama has helped usher in a Golden Era for K Street.
Read the whole thing here.

AIG mess clips the wings of high-flying Obama team

As part of our package on Obama's fall from grace, here's my piece on how the AIG mess has clipped the wings of our better angels.

The bonuses provide an early glimpse of an administration that is not offering the kind of change people were waiting for. The technocratic competence symbolized by the Ivy League degrees has proved a farce in practice. The honest and transparent government represented by ambitious-sounding executive orders has proved to be more smoke than substance.

Worst of all, this episode has dashed hopes that Obama would, in his words, “govern for all the people, not just the interests of the wealthy and well-connected.”

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Capitol Gains: Living Large in the Taxpayer-Funded Recession Oasis of Washington, DC

My first piece in the New York Post discusses our recession shield in DC and the visible effects of it.

As money is to New York City, the old analogy goes, so power is to Washington, DC. But these days, the District seems to be faring better on both fronts.

Sure, we're feeling the recession down here, too. We have net job losses, and we see our stores and restaurants going out of business. But compared to New York - well, let's just say that our Big City envy has melted away.

Starting with the Bear Stearns bailout last March, the balance of power has shifted, accelerating through the summer with AIG's collapse and government rescue, peaking with the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, and not really slowing down since. The giants of finance, the heart of New York's economy, have come to the brink of extinction. And the only reason Wall Street still exists is because of Washington.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Livestock tracing bill could be end of family farms, ranches

My Examiner column today studies a bill to mandate a federal program of animal identification, and the threat this program poses to smaller ranchers.
Mandatory animal tagging and tracking follows a pattern we’ve seen before in many consumer-safety laws: Politicians, claiming to safeguard the people and spurred by self-proclaimed consumer-protection groups, advance regulation favored by industry giants who understand that the regulations’ burden may crush smaller competitors.
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama injects politics — and profit — into science

Obama says he's "restoring science to its proper place," by introducing federal government funding into research that destroys human embryos. As you might guess, the Biotechnology Industry Organization--a major lobbying group--counts this as a win. My column today:

Somehow, in Obama’s rhetoric, fulfilling the funding requests from these industry lobbyists counts as getting politics out of science.

Throughout its brief history, the embryonic stem cell industry has always been supremely political. It has been busy not warding off regulations — recall, this research has never been banned — but seeking taxpayer money at the federal and state level.

Read the whole thing here.

Federal stimulus bill helps Democrats woo business lobby

Our K Street page in the Examiner today includes this noteworthy piece on the Obama lobbying boom.
Obama’s strategy of pushing for rapid action on an array of spending and subsidy policies such as stimulus spending, financial industry bailouts, health care costs and energy policies is driving wedges between business groups and congressional Republicans as traditional alliances splinter.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sebelius at HHS a boost for abortion, stem cell industries

My Examiner column today delves into Kathleen Sebelius's funding from--and for--the abortion industry.
Just as the oil industry got its way in the Bush Administration, the abortion and stem-cell industries appear likely to get their way in the administration of President Barack Obama.

Obama’s nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services is a boon for the big business of abortion and the government-dependant industry of using human embryos for stem-cell research.
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Obama’s hidden bailout of General Electric

Are climate change laws a bailout for GE? My Examiner column follows the money trail.
While many companies hire lobbyists to win earmarks, General Electric’s unmatched lobbying force has secured a tax increase — or its equivalent — in President Barack Obama’s budget.

Labeled “climate revenues” and totaling $646 billion over eight years, this line item in Obama’s budget has inspired confidence in GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt. As Immelt put it in a letter this week, he believes that the Obama administration will be a profitable “financier” and “key partner.”

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dr. No in the Age of ‘Yes We Can’

The cover story of the Sunday Examiner is my profile on Sen. Tom Coburn.
“I’m probably the least partisan person up here.” These are surprising words to hear from Sen. Tom Coburn, the freshman Republican senator from Oklahoma, who doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a moderate: In 2008, he earned a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and a big zero from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.
Read the whole thing here.