For Immediate Release
First on Agenda for January: Restore Role of Citizens in Government
Statement of Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen
WASHINGTON - When he takes office, President-elect Obama will face a mountain of
challenges - more than any incoming president in recent history: the
global financial crisis, the Iraq War, the federal deficit, the energy
crisis and more. The most critical thing this new president can do,
though - which must be done to make any policy solution a success - is
restore the citizen's seat at the government's table. One of the worst
outcomes of the past eight years has been the erosion of democracy and
the phasing out of the people's voice in the government. It is
imperative that this be reversed.
For nearly eight years, virtually the only voices that the Bush
administration listened to were those of big business and corporate
donors. We paid a hefty price: We saw an emergency management agency
that couldn't provide needed aid after a devastating hurricane, a mine
safety agency that coddled mining companies at the expense of worker
safety, the dominance of politics over science at the Environmental
Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an energy
policy written by and for the fossil fuel industry, and an economic
meltdown after the deregulation of the financial services industry.
Citizens raised their voices loud and clear on Tuesday, casting a
vote for significant and enduring change. But that must only be a
beginning. President-elect Obama will send key signals about his
administration in the type of inauguration he organizes (whether it
features fur and limousines or is a people's party), his new appointees
and his first budget. He needs to walk the walk for all those voters
who are counting on his leadership. Public Citizen calls on the Obama
administration and the new Congress to work together to:
- Govern the financial bailout to ensure that homeowners receive some
benefits, that financial companies don't take advantage of the
taxpayers' largesse and that the financial markets are re-regulated;
- Ensure that the regulatory agencies make health, safety and the environment the No. 1 priority, instead of corporate profits;
- Repeal the subsidies that Congress lavished on the fossil fuel and
nuclear industries and instead invest in alternative and renewable
energy and mass transit;
- Ensure that the next elections for president and Congress will be
publicly financed, so we can rid the government of the corrupting
influence of money;
- Reverse the dangerous trend to curbing citizen access to the courts through pre-emption and mandatory arbitration clauses;
- Repeal the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), wherin drug
companies pay more than $500 million directly to the FDA to fund drug
review and other programs related to prescription drugs, creating a
- Change the status-quo model of globalization and the "trade" agreements now implementing it; ensure that the Colombia, Korea and Panama agreements are not implemented and that future agreements meet basic criteria designed to promote the public interest.
This is a new day in America. The eyes of the world are watching to
see if President-elect Obama can pull his team together and live up to
the promises he raised for this great democracy.
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