Published January 29, 2010
Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
President Obama put lobbyists on the political chopping block Wednesday night in his State of the Union speech: "We must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists...that's why we've excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions."
But today, one day after that speech, the administration invited those same lobbyists to participate in a series of off-the-record conference calls with senior officials discussing topics like job creation, education, and even transparency.
One lobbyist told The Hill newspaper: "Bash lobbyists, then reach out to us. Bash lobbyists [while] I have received four Democratic invitations for fundraisers." The White House confirms lobbyists were invited but, "The call is private and invitation only. We don't exclude lobbyists but they are not only for lobbyists."
On the Record
President Obama also called out his predecessor, blaming the record deficits squarely on George W. Bush, saying: "By the time I took office — we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion — and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade."
But before sitting in the Oval Office, then-Senator Obama voted for measures that set the stage for Congress raising the deficit.
March 14, 2008 he voted for concurrent resolution that set the funding level for discretionary spending in the 2009 budget, that ended up with a $400 billion deficit. Obama signed onto the final conference report in June.
On October 1, 2008 Senator Obama voted in favor of the $700 billion TARP program. And in February of 2009, President Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus bill, which had support from only three Republicans; the stimulus package the Congressional Budget Office now says is expected to cost more than $862 billion over the next 10 years.
And finally, liberal talk show host Bill Press was recently denied a Capitol Hill press pass because he was told he was engaging in opinion and not journalism.
So the Politico reports the 70-year-old pundit asked his longtime friend Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for a job as an office intern. "I'm happy as a clam," Press says. "I get to go cover events at the Capitol, and I have the honor of being an intern for Senator Bernie Sanders — which is perfect for me because he's the only senator more liberal than I am."
A spokesman for Sanders reported on Press's performance: "His copying skills are improving, but he has to learn not to spill the coffee."
— Fox News Channel's Megan Dumpe Kenworthy contributed to this report.