Who is Influencing Obama’s Budget Proposal? Follow the Funders.

kristy Reforming Global Finance

An article from New Deal 2.0

Monday, 02/14/2011 – 1:40 pm by Robert Johnson

How the brave new world of money in politics is compromising America’s future.

President Obama is a smart man. When Gallup surveys suggest that unemployment is around 10 percent — and that unemployment plus underemployment is 19 percent of the workforce — then it’s clear that the best way to raise revenues and close the deficit is to put people back to work. President Obama surely knows this. But his actions don’t seem to follow this obvious logic. Why is that?

Part of the reason lies in a group of people who pour money into our political system but don’t necessarily want the same things that ordinary Americans want. In fact, some of these people benefit from municipal crises, breaking teachers unions, and increasing the fear of the workforce. They fall disproportionately into the group that Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig identified as “the funders” in his recent TedX Talk in San Antonio, Texas. The increasing power of this group produces political contortions by buying results in Congress that do nothing for regular folks. Their influence also steers President Obama to focus on his reelection rather than trying to change the climate of opinion and become America’s Great Persuader. The public has now heard the conservative mantra that government is the problem and not the solution for 40 years. Couple that with the experience of valid rage following the bank bailouts, and it’s not surprising that the public overwhelmingly feels that the government has become an instrument of the wealthy and powerful. Strong leadership is needed to challenge this narrative. But the President seems content to conform to the prevailing suspicion of government. He fails to convince the public that the government can have an active response to the jobs crisis — a response that benefits them, not monied interests.

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