Since taking office, President Barack Obama has made governing by executive order his modus operandi. With the stroke of his pen and his pen alone, he’s successfully circumvented the United States Congress on countless controversial issues ranging from immigration reform to gun control.
Needless to say, this approach has been met with sharp resistance from his ideological opponents on the right and by Members of Congress who still believe in the virtues of America’s checks and balance system. But after seven long years of frustration, outrage and legal battles, conservatives want Mr. Obama to use his favorite tool on one issue that would help fix a serious problem in our politics. If President Obama is going to continue governing by decree, then he should issue one good Executive Order to bring more transparency to the issue of money in politics.
Simply put, why is President Obama allowing government contractors to hide secret political donations? But that’s exactly what is taking place today thanks to our broken campaign system. Companies can currently receive billions of tax dollars in government contracts while also spending unlimited amounts of secret money to influence the very people making the decisions on those government contracts. Shockingly, there is absolutely no disclosure required for companies winning the deals from government insiders. This secretive process opens the door to shady, quid pro quo, backroom deals between politicians and the very contractors funding their campaigns.
Conservatives want to see more transparency in politics. We deserve an America where our views are not dismissed simply because we might disagree with a high-priced lobbyist who happened to give more money to a politician.
What makes this broken process so troubling is that in 2013 alone, the U.S. government spent roughly $460 billion on federal contracts with $177 billion going to just 25 companies. And all of those taxpayer dollars were handed out to contractors who have the ability to quietly funnel money to politicians and political parties without having to tell a soul about their contributions.
In years past, Mr. Obama referred to the presence of “dark money” in American politics as a “threat to our democracy.” And just a few short weeks ago, in his State of the Union address, he called on Congress to “reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.”
Since when has this President concerned himself with the will of the Congress? And what is he hiding? The President has had no inhibition about using his pen more than 200 times to sign Executive Orders. He can certainly use it once more to allow the public to know who is giving millions of dollars in political contributions to get billions back in return.
It isn’t too much to ask that federal contractors disclose who they are trying to influence. For once, our Chief Executive’s decision to take a unilateral action would actually help restore the public’s trust in government.
For the man who seemingly has never met an executive order that he didn’t like, what’s taking the President so long to invoke his authority on this particular issue? After all, according to reports, the order is written and has been awaiting his approval for several years now.
Considering that the 2016 election cycle is now in full swing and campaign contributions and spending are shattering records, there’s no time like the present for Mr. Obama to take action. Conservatives will rally outside the White House on February 17th and call upon the President to act. We want President Obama to see that while those on his right may have disagreed with many of the previous 226 Executive Orders he’s signed, there’s one good one that’s sitting on his desk that would be welcomed by many conservatives.
• John Pudner is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic.