During his campaign, Candidate Barack Obama promised to make government more transparent and to increase citizen involvement. President Barack Obama turned that campaign promise into a commitment. From the White House blog:
A short time ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and his new administration officially came to life. One of the first changes is the White House’s new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.
Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement.
Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration’s online programs will put citizens first.
Also from the blog:
One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.
Getting down to business, let’s talk about the stimulus bill, which was crafted behind closed doors – I mean really closed, even to the Republican committee members – which has grown to over 1,400 pages and may still be growing, and which, as of 7:00 Eastern Standard Time, was yet to be distributed to Republican Congressmen, let alone posted for public review. With a vote tentatively set to begin at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, not only is the public being denied the opportunity to review this gargantuan piece of legislation, but so are the legislators who will be voting on it.
Some people may argue that the stimulus bill is an emergency piece of legislation and thus exempt from the stated public review policy, but according to the Congressional Budge Office, “It will take years before an infrastructure spending program proposed by President-elect Barack Obama will boost the economy,” and at least a quarter of the funds wouldn’t be spent until 2011 or later. In my mind, that hardly qualifies the whole package as emergency legislation.
I applaud the intent and hope that President Obama’s commitment to transparency and citizen participation will be implemented but it remains (as do the Administration’s ethics requirements) just that: an intent. For the time being, government is as clear as mud.
Thanks to @rightwingchick for helping me out with my internet research.