Zero Tolerance For Lobbyists? Um . . .

I never cared for Obama's (and Edwards') phony attacks on lobbyists. But the Cult was quite enthused about it. I wonder what they think about this:

President-elect Barack Obama, who vowed during his campaign that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House," said through a spokesman yesterday that he would allow lobbyists on his transition team as long as they work on issues unrelated to their earlier jobs. Obama's transition chief laid out ethics rules - which also bar transition staff from lobbying the administration for one year if they become lobbyists later - and portrayed them as the strictest ever for a transfer of presidential power.


But independent analysts said yesterday that the move is less than the wholesale removal of lobbyists that he suggested during the campaign - and shows how difficult it will be to lessen the pervasive influence of more than 40,000 registered lobbyists. "That is a step back and there is no other way of seeing it," said Craig Holman, who lobbies on governmental affairs for the watchdog group Public Citizen. Nonetheless, he said, Obama is still making "a very concrete effort to avoid what I consider a potentially corrupting situation."

I know, I know - Leave Barack Alone!! On this one, I will. I always knew it was BS.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    The naive... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:13:54 AM EST
    will either be twisting themselves into pretzels or their heads will explode in the coming months.

    Sometimes it is good to have a functioning bullsh*t detector, you avoid a lot of disapointment:)

    Maybe he'll argue (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:33:54 AM EST
    that lobbyists are people too. Oh wait.

    Hey BTD..digging pretty deep are you not? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Richard in Jax on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:08:36 AM EST
    The "transition team" is not "His White House"...right? And, allowing an EX oil and gas lobbyist to work on education affairs hardly fits the problem as it was defined..letting an Oil and Gas guy into Chaney's office to set oil and gas policy. You have lost "my friend"..and it is time for you and Palin to get your heads around that.

    Too funny (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:12:20 AM EST
    You never know how many people are not (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:13:56 AM EST
    reading a blog, until some of them come to comment.

    I was thinking about the structure... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:39:31 AM EST
    ... of the arguments we will be hearing.  Not that I can entirely blame the arguments or the arguers--everyone loves a winner.

     Obama left the promises fairly open, his policy statements were fairly contradictory and of course he told a lot of Democrats and lefties and unions things "they didn't want to hear" especially the UAW as I recall about cafe standards. The balancing act requires the media to pretend he hasn't contradicted himself but eventually he's going to have to come down on one side or another on every issue as he governs.  I only hope he tends to be  in favour of UHC and actually winding up the combat in Asia.

    One thing that is quickly becoming apparent in the rumour mill is that Obama appears to be lobbying Bush  on behalf of Detroit--I assume he's doing it on behalf of the UAW as well (as he should because the party is founded on union strength) and car production is a core part of starting the economy again. So it's important to get cars off the lots and onto the street. But you'll see the green BS about CAfe standards dropped. If cars are not being sold the economy is probably in terminal decline and the trend needs to be reversed by any means.

      Will the press talk about that sort of reversal or will any environmentalists take note at all?  probably not... and why not?  Obama left it all magically open with his promises on the campaign trail. For any promise he made, you can find a quote that contradicts it (rather like the bible in it's own way).

    It's some sort of variation on the 'Friedman' Unit but much more artful and elaborate.  


    one of my favorite things about (none / 0) (#51)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 01:39:06 PM EST
    the bible...

    for every little tidbit you can find in the bible that supports some religious view you're trying to expound there's another little tidbit in the bible that totally contradicts it (some parts of the bible lead you to believe that you have to be baptized in order to go to heaven, yet words from the man himself contradict that in a different section...so essentially, you can believe whatever you want to believe and probably back it up using the bible...a thing of beauty)

    all persons who teach religion based upon the bible are highly selective in which parts they decide to use...

    quite a tight-wire act really, only that it's not considering no one that they are preaching to would ever call them out on it...

    enough off-topic...

    boooooo to lobbyists...booooo...boooo...
    any Congressman that becomes a lobbyist after being in office should never be allowed near the houses...that should be a rule...either that or any congressman that decides to become a lobbyist should be tarred-and-feathered for totally showing that our country is run by lobbyists and not by politicians...


    Ha! (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:20:37 AM EST
    I knew it. Listen, I do not give a sh*t about it.

    I just wanted to see the Cult defend it and here you are.


    Obama bashers..... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Abbey on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:56:54 AM EST
    ....are the cult.  I thought this BB left that behind a long time ago.

    I'm rubber (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:02:41 AM EST
    You're glue.

    I'll grant you there is an anti-Obama cult.I have dealt with them harshly here. you could look it up, as the Obama Cult is fond of saying.

    But I was attacked by the Obama Cult today. Other days, the anti-Obama Cult has attacked me.


    Personally, I'm in the (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:12:31 AM EST
    anti-BTD cult.  And I demand that you remove your anti-anti-BTD cult followers who have been picketing my house and playing reggaeton music at all hours of the day and night.

    Heh (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:17:48 AM EST
    it's like being savaged by a rabid sheep. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:07:46 AM EST
    poor old Geoff Howe.

    Is it your contention. . . (none / 0) (#15)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:42:27 AM EST
    The "transition team" is not "His White House"

    that Obama's pledge applies only to people located physically in the White House?  That, for instance, he'd be honoring his pledge if he appoints health care lobbyists to important positions in HHS?  Because that's what it sounds like.

    I actually think Obama's rules for the transition team are reasonably strong -- provided that the one year ban applies to people coming from lobbying and then returning to lobbying after the transition.  Otherwise, they just take an eight week leave from their lobbying firm, shape the new Administration personnel in their area of interest, and return to their firm in time to take a large year-end bonus.

    Of course, I'd prefer a clear-cut rule -- no transition or Administration staff recruited from industrial lobbying or, on leaving service, allowed to lobby the Obama Administration at any time in the future.  That would really be something.


    could not be enforced. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:50:10 AM EST
    Surely they would only pledge to forego such work? I'd prefer it if they were only allowed to lobby for a pre-approved list of unions and civil rights groups.  I don't want stealth GOP types shifting support from Bush to Obama just because both won elections and grab these jobs.



    I distinguish between. . . (none / 0) (#21)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:52:35 AM EST
    people who lobby for commercial interests and people who lobby for positions of principle, even on the Republican side.

    lobbyists in "Chaney's office" (none / 0) (#47)
    by marian evans on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:48:11 AM EST
    ...I guess that's Chaney as in Lon Chaney, right?

    I knew the Bush years were a horror story, but clearly I had no idea quite how much!


    The fundamental problem is (none / 0) (#5)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:19:51 AM EST
    lobbying is basically what qualified Democratic people do when their party is out of power, or when they're out of a government job for some other reason.

    This is why BTD was right to call BS on it from the start.  A complete ban on lobbyists is just unrealistic, as great as it sounds when you're trying to outbid other candidates in a Democratic primary.

    Qualified Democrats... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:28:28 AM EST
    have no other employment options besides government work or work that involves asking the government for money and favors?

    The poor things...it must suck to have such limited skills:)


    "Qualified" ought to be the question (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Cream City on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:00:20 AM EST
    and the concern here.  So Obama's team is going to have people not working on issues in which they have expertise and experience?  Instead, they will be working on issues about which they do not have those qualifications?  

    This sounds like something those "facilitators" dream up in those time-wasting sessions so endemic in academe in recent years -- sort of what we used to call role-playing until "consultants" found out they could charge more by relabeling themselves as "facilitators."  

    So everyone is normed, everyone is equalized, and everyone can do anyone's job -- custodians talk about how to teach better, and faculty talk about better ways to take out the garbage.  Of course, that job becomes bigger, because such management models just make it all garbage.


    Heh (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:03:51 AM EST
    Well, you can work directly in industry too, but for the purposes of this discussion it doesn't make any difference.

    Let's say you spent several years working on energy policy in the Clinton Administration.  Now Bush takes power and your job goes to some kid from the Heritage Foundation.  You might parlay your experience into a job with an energy company, or you might become a lobbyist on energy issues, but either way your expertise lies in the intersection between the energy industry and government and that's what people are going to want to hire you for.


    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:23:58 AM EST
    I was half-joking...trying to make a point about the line wrapped around the corner to suck on the teet.

    Lobbyists are just a given (none / 0) (#44)
    by Pepe on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:09:55 AM EST
    They represent the free speech and influence that we all have at our disposal in some magnitude. But the big problem with them, which I haven't read anyone here mention, is when they actually write the policy bills, or portions of, or even worse have a stronger say in what the policy is going to be than the other people the policy will affect.

    That truly does have to be curtailed but I'm afraid that between lobbyist influence on congress and Obama himself, no matter what steps he takes in his Kubuki Dance, that their influence on the bills themselves will not go unchanged from what it has been in previous administrations.

    Like I said previously in relation to Gitmo and John Brennan, anyone who wnated to could see all this coming over a year ago but chose to put blinders on. And I'll say this again also - those who chose blinders are just as responsible for these and upcoming policy reversals by Obama as Obama is himself.


    A lot of people were (none / 0) (#43)
    by Pepe on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:38:49 AM EST
    way out in front of this long ago and called Obama out on his lobbying lies at the beginning of the primaries. He has always had the big money interests in his camp who is who the lobbyists represent anyway. He has just been by passing the middleman. It was all smoke and mirrors from the beginning. I'm not sure I ever read BTD criticize Obama on this during the primaries. When others did they got their account deleted unfortunately.

    What is funny about this latest revelation is than these lobbyists who will be working in the WH change  industries often so their last industry job, which supposedly they will not be able to work on in the WH, does not prevent them from working on an policy that affects an industry that they were in a few years ago and still have connections in. More smoke and mirrors. Add to those connections the fact that all lobbyists are
    interconnected by association. So there is a very thin layer keeping any lobbying influence from keeping it's tentacles out of the WH.

    Then of course what Obama does doesn't keep lobbying out of congress where the bills are written anyway. I mean if Obama really wanted to get feedback on policy for m industry he either has congress do his dirty work or he goes directly to the same CEO's who he has been talking to already anyway.

    This has all been discussed long ago but of course the Obama loyal refused to recognize it back then but some are coming out of the woodwork now as if it is all a new discovery, or a discovery that they knew all along but didn't say anything about when it really counted.


    Yes, lobbying is a ... (none / 0) (#48)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:57:20 AM EST
    protected first amendment activity.

    This doesn't make all lobbyist good or even equal.  But it does make them a central part of our democracy.


    you could argue that lobbying (none / 0) (#53)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 01:49:47 PM EST
    is a first amendment discussion...

    but I think being PAID to lobby can change the discussion a bit...

    it's like having consensual sex without anything bent sent one way or another, or having sex with a small gift being sent one way or both ways...

    at some point just sex becomes illegal in the form of prostitution, but the line is very fine...I'd say the same could be said for lobbying...


    My point is ... (none / 0) (#54)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 02:06:32 PM EST
    you can't outlaw lobbying.

    It's constitutionally protected.


    in what part of the constitution? (none / 0) (#55)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 02:42:50 PM EST
    maybe I'm missing a part that says that former senators can get paid a bazillion dollars to make decisions for current senators...

    now, if those former senators just want to do it on their own, man-to-man so to speak, without being paid to do so then I can see your point...
    but as soon as they get paid to be a lobbyist then is it really free speech any more?  


    It's in the first amendment ... (none / 0) (#59)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:06:19 PM EST
    specifically "the petition clause."

    And the phrase "congress shall make no law" applies to all clauses.

    Some people are so clueless.


    does it set the pay rate... (none / 0) (#60)
    by of1000Kings on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:48:12 PM EST
    or the conversion rate for the amount of money it takes to convert a vote from a politician that's supposed to be making a decision based upon its whole constituency, and not just the one that has the most money?

    it's gotta be in there, right?

    I mean, I have the right to petition my senators too right?  face to face, at dinner, anytime I want just like a lobbyist, right?  otherwise my constitutional right is being violated, I assume?


    I love the prostitution analogy.... (none / 0) (#57)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 03:52:37 PM EST
    Kings...spot on, on so many levels.  Well done.

    Another way to look at it...lobbying is the outsourcing of your right to redress grievances.  I wonder if we'll get to the point where all lobbying is done out of call-centers is New Dehli:)


    I think most realistic people knew that (none / 0) (#8)
    by tigercourse on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:31:53 AM EST
    Obama (and Edwards) were lying when they went on their anti lobbyist binge (I mean, Obama has gotten millions from lobbyist, ex lobbyists, lobbyist spouses, etc). The Obama fans did like to point out though that because Clinton wasn't willing to lie she was some kind of ultra corrupt bastion of the old boy network.

    I'm sure now that Obama has finesed his position, they will finese their opinions.

    The implication (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:46:47 AM EST
    in that debate....Dkos convention, was that Clinton was too open to  lobbyists from corporations. Probably pandering to the Dkos audience with that argument.

    Of course what happened is that she attempted to clarify that teacher's unions and the UAW have their own lobby groups--and we ought to be supportive of their aims.

    went over like a lead balloon which makes you wonder what the ideological composition of the cloth eared audience actually was.


    Not the Cult though (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:34:32 AM EST
    It would be more refreshing (none / 0) (#11)
    by Exeter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:34:46 AM EST
    for Obama to say the no-lobbyist rule was silly because it was too broad. Unions, environmental groups, seniors, minorities, GLBT community... EVERY  major piece of the Democratic coalition are "special interests" represented by "lobbyists".

    That wouldn't be refreshing. It would be a (none / 0) (#12)
    by tigercourse on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:37:16 AM EST
    complete 180 from his prior position. It would be taking a position he had previously ridiculed.

    ah (none / 0) (#14)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:41:58 AM EST
    But did he?   He was simply telling Democratic interest groups, "thing they didn't want to hear'  thus gaining David Broder's undying loyalty.

    Never say never! (none / 0) (#16)
    by Annie M on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:43:30 AM EST
    Hmmm...was it my mom or dad who told me that?

    It was Sean Connery. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:51:19 AM EST
    knock-off of Thunderball in the 80s (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:54:13 AM EST
    was going to be my response.

    Not even.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Abbey on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:54:51 AM EST
    Obama never said he would have a "zero tolerance" policy on lobbists,andthis is the strictest policy that has ever been implemented - even though it'sonly forthe transition period.  Let's wait to see what he does in the White House before we start bashing him.

    Excuse me? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:56:25 AM EST
    you must be joking.

    I will find the Obama quotes on lobbyists for you.


    Quick search (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:00:09 AM EST
    "Psaki said that Obama's lobbying and ethics reform plan would limit the influence of lobbyists on his administration if he were elected president. "His plan would prevent anyone who is a former lobbyist from working on those issues during his first two years in the White House," said Psaki. "And no one who is a political appointee could ever lobby the White House."

    could EVER lobby the White House.

    Ever seems like longer than a year to me. Maybe I missed something.


    The Whiite House is in Chicago now (none / 0) (#32)
    by Cream City on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:02:06 AM EST
    in case you missed that -- this is what is called a White House-in-waiting.  And this is when the planning is done for the White House you will see for the next four years, when it is moved back to Washington (at least for the cameras:-).

    New/old cliches... (none / 0) (#49)
    by marian evans on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:58:57 AM EST
    Is "Let's wait to see what he does in the White House" the post-election version of "Read his website"?

    Sort of an Obama "You Don't Ask, And We Don't Tell" policy, I guess...


    Ha! (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:55:01 AM EST
    What a red herring. This is a classic comment. you sure you are not John Cole?

    Article you site misstates what was said (none / 0) (#25)
    by Key on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:55:18 AM EST
    You know, I listened to the entire press conference (thanks XM radio) and the article you site, I believe, mis-states what was said.  I suggest you go back and listen to the original press conference.  You'll find out that - big shock - the reporter did a bad job reporting this one.

    How's about a transcript? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:00:39 AM EST
    NYT tells a different story.... (none / 0) (#52)
    by Key on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 01:45:41 PM EST
    Could not find the transcript.  But consider your quote (what paper was that from?) to this one from the NYT:

    WASHINGTON -- Turning to campaign promises in which he pledged sweeping ethics restrictions, President-elect Barack Obama will bar lobbyists from helping to pay the costs of his transition to power or working for it in any area in which they have represented clients in the last year, his transition team said Tuesday.

    Mr. Obama's aides indicated that they expected the rules to apply to his inauguration as well as the transition, but said they had yet to make a final decision on how the inauguration would be paid for.

    John D. Podesta, a co-chairman of the Obama transition, called the restraints "the strictest, the most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history."

    The rules have led to some grumbling that at a time of immense challenges, an Obama administration could be excluding a pool of substantial talent by stopping people from working for the White House in the areas they know best.

    "I've heard the complaint," Mr. Podesta said, "which is we're leaving all this expertise on the side, because we're leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it's one that we intend to enforce during the transition."


    That is a different point (none / 0) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 03:19:31 PM EST
    Obama does not need their stinkin money.

    I know that this is just PR (none / 0) (#58)
    by lilburro on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:29:13 PM EST
    BS...but really

    "I've heard the complaint," Mr. Podesta said, "which is we're leaving all this expertise on the side, because we're leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it's one that we intend to enforce during the transition."

    Couldn't this apply to Brennan?


    Feh. (none / 0) (#26)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 09:56:22 AM EST
    Obama pledges a steadfast anti-lobbyist position.  

    You now say he should abandon his position because steadfast positions are associated with the Bush Administration?

    You would have been much better arguing that this new policy is a steadfast refusal to seat lobbyist at the table of governance.  As I pointed out, it is a pretty strong anti-lobbyist policy.    Otherwise you just sound silly.

    And, please -- "Palin intellect"?  "Bush inflexibility".  Try again when you have a better grasp of insults.

    Palin's... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:04:58 AM EST
    ...intellect was modern conservatism writ large--atavistic and hollow. It is conservative but it doesn't really know why it is conservative. It was laughable to watch her attempt to articulate what Supreme court decisions she agreed with or disagreed with on an ideological level. Biden was lucky to have such a convenient foil. he barely understands why he's a Democrat himself.

    I know why I'm left wing (national healthcare and general social equality) and I know what I would like to see government do.


    Surprised? (none / 0) (#36)
    by centralismo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:06:41 AM EST
    No. Not at all.

    Obama has never shown himself to be truly Left. In fact, while reading his "Audacity of Hope," I came away with the sense that Obama is a pragmatist-idealist; meaning, he believes that staying open to all sides at all times and constructing balanced policies that ooze "fairness" is the way to govern.

    I'm not sure how that will work, but neither is he, as he repeatedly says in the book.

    Hope is not something that can dictate real policy.

    Pragmatism is not a philosophy that leans left.

    Answers are not produced from ideologies. And Obama seems to be acutely aware of this.

    Still, at the end of the day, he did say, "no lobbyists."

    Color me disappointed.

    sorry... (none / 0) (#38)
    by centralismo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:07:47 AM EST
    I meant, "...he is a pragmatic-idealist."

    he idealizes pragmatism. (none / 0) (#40)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:15:10 AM EST
    the ideal being a verb rather than a noun.  Or an adjective.

    BTD, I'm with you on ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:18:58 AM EST
    the lobbyist thing being BS.  Even Obama thought so.

    He was continually parsing his comments on this issue:

    "They won't work in my White House" became "they are not going to dominate my White House."

    But this statement does seem to break a promise:

    bar transition staff from lobbying the administration for one year if they become lobbyists later

    Because earlier the Obama campaign's position was this:

    In addition to the restrictions on new workers, Obama would prohibit appointees who leave government from lobbying the executive branch for as long as he is in office.

    Unless Obama only plans to be in office for one year, it doesn't seem as if these two statements mesh.

    Obama also said:

    I refuse to accept the Washington logic that you cannot find thousands of talented, patriotic Americans willing to devote a few years to their country without the promise of a lucrative lobbying job when they're done. I know we can find them

    Oops ... guess he couldn't.

    We're not going to be surprised (none / 0) (#46)
    by pluege on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 11:27:27 AM EST
    when Obama turns out to be:

    • far less than the wingnuts of the left including the kosites, TPMians, Olbermanophiles, and other super-sycophants of the left dreamed up that he was;
    • a center-right insider politician pretty much across the board;
    • not interested in a progressive agenda or willing to pay anything more than minor lip service to progressives - if that;
    • doesn't do most of what he IMPLIED he would do in terms of progressive policies and interests
    • only makes a few cosmetic changes in the healthcare systems (citing that we are too broke to implement a new healthcare system that will low the cost of delivering healthcare to more citizens);

    are we?

    Obama was never progressive or interested in a progressive agenda. He did what he needed to do to get elected against his natural tendencies - that's as deep as it goes. Progressivity is NOT his natural orientation.

    Not perfect but much better (none / 0) (#50)
    by msobel on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 12:10:59 PM EST
    I would suggest that the Lobbyist rules promulgated are stricter than any previous efforts and miles to the good against what McCain would have done.  I am not going to try to contrast with other Democrats campaign promises but your post, IMO, should make it clear that the rules have made the situation significantly better.