Hard on the heels of that shocking Pew Research Center survey finding that four out of five Americans don’t trust government comes a blitz of new revelations about the Obama administration that amount to a full-fledged credibility crisis. The latest disclosures are especially damaging because they concern President Obama’s possible misrepresentation of his relationships with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and convicted felon Tony Rezko, his administration’s misleading statements about Obamacare costs, and questions about improper manipulation of government-owned General Motors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Blagojevich revelations were no less serious for being accidental. Blagojevich’s defense attorneys filed a federal court motion to subpoena Obama concerning charges that the former governor tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by the chief executive. Improper formatting of the heavily redacted public version of the motion contained evidence that Obama spoke to Blagojevich about the Senate appointment a week before telling White House reporters that he had not done so. The document also revealed that federal prosecutors are withholding from Blagojevich’s attorneys documents describing what Obama told investigators about conversations with Rezko on the appointment or his financial ties to the Chicago developer who was one of his key fundraisers.
On Obamacare, the president and his appointees said repeatedly over the last year that it would reduce government health care spending. Yet now comes Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services secretary, confessing that “We don’t know how much it’s going to cost.” Why is Sebelius only now saying this when her own department just made public a report obviously months in preparation that projected government health care costs overall will go up, not down? That same HHS report also said Obamacare’s Medicare cuts could put 15 percent of all hospitals out of business, making treatment harder to get and more expensive, especially for seniors.
Finally, General Motors claimed in national advertisements this week that it repaid its Troubled Asset Relief Program loans, plus interest, five years early. But the TARP inspector general said GM used other TARP funds to repay its original TARP loans, so the ads were fundamentally dishonest. Recall here that White House adviser Carol Browner told GM and other automakers to “write nothing down” about their dealings last year with administration officials on fuel economy standards. So it seems entirely appropriate to ask if GM’s repayment claims were “suggested” by somebody in the Obama White House. That would be the same White House that is also now suspected of improperly influencing the SEC to file fraud charges against Goldman Sachs just as Congress debates Obama’s financial reform proposal. As the Obama administration will learn, plummeting public trust eats away at the fundamental credibility of government and undermines its ability to carry out even its most basic duties.