Oh Noes! Lobbyists Standing in Line with Labor Leaders!!

standing-in-line.jpgThe really amusing part of this story–describing how a number of business interests who ran were warmly welcomed in the Bush White House are aghast that they have to stand in line in the same waiting room with labor interests–is behind a firewall (thanks to egregious for liberating it).

The extent of substantive interaction varies. Some lobbyists, particularly those representing industries Obama wants to promote, report numerous contacts and substantive meetings.

But other K Street veterans report a shocking new reality.

Top business officials accustomed to red-carpet treatment in the Bush White House say they must stand in line in the cold outside transition headquarters along with people they don’t recognize, waiting to be cleared to meet with Obama staffers they don’t know and who don’t always appear to understand their issues. One veteran business official lamented that the only Obama official he has recognized so far is former Environmental Protection Agency Director Carol Browner — along with lobbying foes for labor and environmental organizations he has seen milling around or standing in the queue.

"We were part of the team" during the Bush transition, reminisced another top K Street player. "The business lobby was not pro-Obama," he acknowledged. "And for good reason, if you look at the campaign rhetoric."

Several business representatives wondered whether they were involved in a "check the box" scam designed to show inclusiveness rather than practice it.

"You get your five-minute elevator presentation," said one top industry lobbyist who said his meetings have been devoid of meaty discussion. "They say nothing. It’s a pure note-taking exercise. Will they be able to say they reached out? Sure." [my emphasis]

And these poor lobbyists are also worried that the white papers they give the Obama Administration, which under the Jack Abramoff style system employed by the Bush White House would be printed out on White House letterhead and presented as Administration policy, will be released in original form on the net.

Obama appears so far to be sticking to his promise to shed daylight on the process, reversing Bush White House practices most famously exemplified by Vice President Dick Cheney’s secret meetings with energy lobbyists. Instead, business types huddling with Obama officials are immediately told that the position papers and other documents they are pushing across the table are going directly onto the Web. 

To be fair, the story describes the industries which Obama has welcomed warmly: small businesses, wholesalers and distributors, high tech, and alternative energies. That focus is not entirely a good thing. For example, Obama and Democrats in Congress seem intent on making the auto czar an environmental/finance position, rather than one which brings real value add to auto industry. Though it appears that Steven Rattner has a significant conflict with Cerberus that may make him an impossible auto czar, I still don’t see what value he would bring. 

That said, I find it immensely satisfying to know that a bunch of indignant lobbyists are being made to stand in line along with lobbyists who represent the rest of us.

(Photo by dabdiputs)

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    Hmm…You know, I can see a way to make that line work for us. Send out some staffers to say “Mr. Lobbyist, meet Mr. Union. You folks should talk”.

    Boxturtle (Cut out the middleman, save time & money)

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      And since much of the rain in northern reaches is now approximately the ph (acid measure) of weak vinegar, maybe they’ll start to realize that the Bush methods are not sustainable. But I’m a dreamer.

      Interesting to see this item on the same day that Google’s Public Policy blog has announced Congress coming to YouTube, with a YouTube hub for the Senate, and another for the House: http://googlepublicpolicy.blog…..utube.html

  2. dosido says:

    Poor babies, flying “coach” instead of the corporate jet!

    Gotta love the cynical tone about inclusiveness…

  3. brantl says:

    If an environmental aspect is added to the car industry, it’s the only value added you’re going to get, until, unless the feds decide to mandate alternate enrgy-driven cars, buses and gets behind research into same.

    • Tammy212 says:

      unless the feds decide to mandate alternate enrgy-driven cars, buses and gets behind research into same.

      It’s not federally mandated, but a lot of the big-city transit buses are going over to alternate-fueled vehicles. No fuss, they’ve just been doing it.

  4. klynn says:

    I shared, once on FDL, about an experience I had back in 1992 after being a part of working group regarding a policy development session for human services in a conference room in the Old Executive Office Bldg. A person of power who was observing the session suggested I come with him to meet a few people…Before I knew it, I was on my way through the Executive Office Building. He was on a first name basis with all the security personnel. Then, I was led into the VP’s office where many everyday people were waiting for an audience with the VP. All were faces of “real life” concerns. Many appeared to have spent their last pennies to get to Washington to be heard. Of course, the VP at the time was our Cerberus buddy, Quayle.

    The individual I was with was with a very influential DC lobby (which few in the country knew at the time was so influential.) He assured me we would get waived in without an appointment.

    I felt the eyes of all of those who had been waiting all day burning towards my direction. Just as we were getting waived into the VP’s office, I began to go and shake hands and talk with individuals in the room asking what their concerns were. I was able to learn that a group of individuals, who did not know each other, all had related concerns. I gathered them together.

    The VP came to the entryway of his office to looked at what I was doing. He looked unhappy he had to get up from his desk. I turned and walked to the VP, stretched out my hand, thanked him for opening time in his schedule for me and then told him I wanted him to meet some friends of mine. I then introduced the group of citizens who had related concerns.

    After the introduction, I turned to the VP and said, “Honorable Vice President Quayle, since you so graciously and generously opened a spot in your schedule for me, I yield my time to these fine folks who seriously need your help. Please have a great day and help them solve their real concerns. I beleive you have the power and influence to help them. It was an honor to meet you.

    I spun around and walked out, listening to Quayle sputtering in the background trying to get a verbal footing with the group I just turned over to him.

    My friend chased after me and tried to chew me out for walking out on the VP. I chewed him out for being an arrogant SOB and putting his import before others and clarified that I was NOT impressed by his access to power.

    He said I didn’t “get” Washington. I said, “I ‘get it’ fine and today I can live with myself. How about you? In my world, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

    A few security guards heard the whole exchange and I managed the exchange with a polite, controlled smile and a quick, firm step in my gate, trying to stay professional but internally furious.

    To read this post EW just makes me think…It’s. About. Damn. Time.

    • lllphd says:

      wow. i’m just…. WOW!!!

      wow. klynn, that is the most impressive first hand story i’ve ever heard. i applaud you.

      that is precisely what it is all about. kudos for the soul to listen to the stories of those people, the heart to gather them together, the courage to hand them over to quayle, and the chutzpah to put that arrogant slob in his rightful place.

      we need more of you. anytime i can buy you a cuppa, please let me know. i’d be honored.

      • Hmmm says:

        +1, but this is a reminder that for the most part those willing to participate in the USG at high and powerful levels are frequently not (I was going to say never, but that’d be hyperbole) the sort of people we need to have there if we’re ever going to see any significant improvement. Imagine what could be if hundreds of klynns were in those offices.

      • klynn says:

        Gosh, you’re all so kind…

        I love coffee…

        Someday, I’ll share what the policy was and who the lobbyist and lobbying group happened to be…It makes the story EXTREMELY sweet. Sorry I have to leave you hanging for that information.


        To read the words, “That’s a kickass story, klynn!!” from you, just made me want to Snoopy dance!

        Thank you!

  5. dakine01 says:

    I think the lobbyists sound upset just because they have to stand in line with anyone for any reason.

    Doesn’t Obama recognize that they are the Masters of the Universe? /s

  6. Redshift says:

    I can’t help wondering how many of these poor-me lobbyists are young enough to have spent their entire careers in the Bush pay-to-play era, and never bothered to think that it wasn’t always that way. I’m sure if President Obama asked some of the teachers among the campaign volunteers, they’d be glad to conduct history lessons for these benighted souls.

  7. randiego says:

    The FDR Memorial, a true masterpiece, and one of the first monuments I’d take people to when they came to DC.

    Great theme for this article too, nice work.

    • emptywheel says:

      It was either that or any number of pictures of people lined up to see Obama speak during the election campaign.

      I finally settled for FDR, but it was close.

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Wow, that is a really good point. I can think of a few lobbyists and staffers for whom your point is really astute; they’ve never worked in an era not run by pay-to-play.

  9. Tammy212 says:

    Awww, my heart just bleeds buttermilk for these entitled, bloodsucking Beltway squids. Sorry, folks–in the real world, we wait in line, and a whole bunch of people review our proposals before they decide if they’re worth our time, and money.

    My God, the Obamafolx put these things on the Web for public scrutiny. I think I just had a tiny accident, but it was a happy one.

  10. freepatriot says:

    people gotta wait in line to meet with Barack Obama ???

    where have I heard of that before ???

    Abe Lincoln maybe ???

    you could look it up

  11. WarOnWarOff says:

    “The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some 200 years ago, and very little has changed…”

    /Lisa Simpson

  12. Badwater says:

    The lobbyists believed in the durability of the Permanent Republic Majority. They are unable to come to grips yet with Bush’s destruction their fantasy.

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    From the pomp and circumstance of King George’s Empire… to pimps in uncertain circumstances in the Age of Obama.Boom shakka lakka! Who’s gonna get the “Shaft”,now, GOP pimps and suckas??