President Barack Obama's campaign promise of an open government disappeared shortly after he took office and the closed-door, secret negotiations on health care reform demonstrate all too clearly that politics in Washington remain "business as usual" in his administration.
The secrecy that surrounds White House actions rivals that of the often-criticized administration of former President George W. Bush and key decisions on health care reform now are not being made in the open but in behind the scenes negations involving three Democratic Senators: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Christopher Dodd and Max Baucus.
It wasn't supposed to work this way: Taxpayers bail out huge financial institutions and those bailouts help the institutions get richer while average Americans get poorer.
But that's what happened.
Wall Street titans are richer than ever and the banks on the verge of collapse just a year ago are now readying huge bonuses for the executives to run them.
And they have Washington to thank for their continued growth in wealth.
President Barack Obama's penchant for throwing money at any and all problems that face this nation will drive the federal deficit to gigantic proportions by 2013 and that debt could wipe out any gains in the nation's struggling economy.
The federal deficit rose another trillion dollars over the last year -- the largest relative debt since 1945.
Former President George H.W. Bush says MSNBC entertainers Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are "sick puppies" for the way they treat his son -- former President George W. Bush -- and other who don't agree with him.
The elder Bush, in an interview with CBS News, singled out the two liberal talk show hosts as examples of what he called an increasing lack of civility in politics.
"I don't like it," Bush said of the coarse tone of national debate. "The cables have a lot to do with it. It's not just the right. There are plenty of people on the left."
Maddow and Olbermann anchor MSNBC's nightly dishing of liberal opinion and often single out George W. Bush for harsh commentary and treatment. Although neither are trained journalists, the cable network bills their talkfests as "news" shows.
President Barack Obama promised to rid Washington of the cozy, back-scratching relationships between politicians and well-heeled corporate lobbyists.
Instead, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress hopped right into bed with them and set in motion a conspiracy with health care industry groups that generated a watered-down reform bill and a high-dollar propaganda campaign aimed at selling the plan to the American public.
It's just another example of how big money and special interests control Congress and the White House.
It's also why real health care won't happen.
Insisting he's "just getting started," President Barack Obama defended his administration Thursday against complaints from some residents of the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast that federal help in recovering from the 2005 disasters hasn't improved much since he took office.
"We've got a long way to go but we've made progress," Obama told a town hall at the University of New Orleans. "We're working as hard as we can and as quickly as we can."
As a candidate, Obama criticized former President George W. Bush's response to Katrina, when the government showed up late and unprepared and the Federal Emergency Management Agency became the object of widespread scorn.
If her check were bigger, 76-year-old Agnes Conti might be able to spring for a better cut of meat for her pot roast. She could afford to send her nine grandchildren more than $20 for their birthdays and Christmas. She'd be able to spring for some nice new clothes, like she sees on QVC, not what she settles for at Walmart.
If only. The government has said the Social Security checks Conti and tens of millions of other seniors rely on as their primary source of income will not increase next year as consumer prices have fallen overall. And while the retired hospital clerk will get by, she'll be watching her spending even closer, knowing she can't expect the annual raise she's been accustomed to.
Businesses reported creating or saving more than 30,000 jobs in the first months of President Barack Obama's stimulus program, according to initial data released Thursday by a government oversight board. Military construction led the way, and states in the South and Southwest saw the biggest boost.
The new job numbers — in line with expectations for such an early accounting — offer the first hard data on effects of the $787 billion stimulus program.
The figures are based on jobs linked to less than $16 billion in federal contracts and represent just a sliver of the total stimulus package. But they also represent a milestone of sorts for an administration that promised unprecedented real-time data on whether the program was working.
As the White House and Congressional leaders turned in earnest on Wednesday to working out big differences in the five health care bills, perhaps no issue loomed as a greater obstacle than whether to establish a government-run competitor to the insurance industry.
One day after the Senate Finance Committee approved a measure without a “public option,” the question on Capitol Hill was how President Obama could reconcile the deep divisions within his party on the issue. All eyes were on Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the Maine Republican whose call for a “trigger” that would establish a government plan as a fallback is one of the leading compromise ideas.
In its assaults on a Democratic health care overhaul bill, the insurance industry uses facts selectively and mixes accurate assertions with misleading spin and an embrace of worst-case scenarios.
Take the 30-second TV spot that America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, was running this week in six states as the Senate Finance Committee approved overhaul legislation.
With a series of beleaguered-looking elderly people on camera, a soothing female voice says accurately that Congress has proposed cutting more than $100 billion from Medicare Advantage. The program, administered by private companies that provide extra services like eye and dental care, serves about a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries, more than 10 million people.