Obama touts ‘transparency and the rule of law’

OBAMA TOUTS ‘TRANSPARENCY AND THE RULE OF LAW’…. In a largely symbolic gesture, Barack Obama announced today that he will freeze the salaries of White House aides making over $100,000 a year. The politics of this probably looks good to the public, even if, from a policy perspective, it’s not especially effective.

And while the salary freeze is generating headlines, this strikes me as more interesting.

He also announced a change in policy that will require each federal agency and department to give full attention to Freedom of Information requests and said he expects members of his administration to be responsive to such pleas.

And Obama also revealed what he called a “clean break” from existing rules spelling out when and under what circumstances administration officials could work on issues on which they lobbied governmental agencies before.

He said there would be a two-year, rather than a one-year, waiting period for government officials to be able to work on such issues and said they would “not be able to work on matters you lobbied on or White House agencies you lobbied during the last two years.”

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration,” Obama said in a statement to reporters.

Obama added that the new lobbying restrictions are “stricter limits than under any other administration in history.” That’s not only true, it’ll severely undercut the system wherein corporate shills run executive branch agencies.

Better attention to FOIA requests is also very encouraging. For the last eight years, FOIA requests were often not worth filing, given the efficiency with which officials would ignore them.

Update: I also like this line: “Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.