Special Interests Prepare to Derail Obama Agenda

03/30/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Thursday morning's Wall Street Journal reported:

Industries from health care to agribusiness to mining that stand to lose under President Barack Obama's policy agenda are ramping up lobbying campaigns to derail or modify his plans.

... Opinion polls indicate that Mr. Obama's broad goals enjoy popular support. But crucial details of the president's agenda will be decided in coming months by close-in legislative fighting, where big industries and the members of Congress that support them have plenty of clout.

While lobbying alone is not evil, the combination of special interest lobbyists plus their ability to legally funnel millions into political campaigns is toxic. Members of Congress become dependent upon the lobbyists, and lobbyists sell the clout this dependency creates.

Joe Trippi recently explained more:

Right now, millions in campaign contributions coupled with millions spent on lobbying can result in billions worth of payback for special interests. It's all legal.

...But there are some big losers in that equation: The public. The American people have lost faith in a system dominated by money. We don't have lobbyists looking out for the public good. And when non-profit groups do send liaisons to congressional offices, they don't have the same clout as a lobbyist who can put together a $50,000 fundraiser later that evening.

The public faces a choice: do we continue playing a rigged game where the voices of special interests outweigh the voices of regular people or do we fundamentally change the game?

I know my answer to that question.

Change Congress, the anti-corruption group I formed with Joe Trippi, has already mobilized thousands of people across the nation in support of a political "donor strike" where we pledge not to give politicians a penny more unless they support bipartisan legislation that would fundamentally reform the way congressional campaigns are funded.

If you're ready to change the system, please join the donor strike today.

Specifically, we're advocating for the Durbin-Specter plan, which combines public financing with Obama-style small dollar contributions. It would liberate politicians from spending huge portions of their day courting $2,400 special-interest checks and instead allow them to court support from regular people.

This model has already worked on the state level, and it garners nearly 70% in national polls. It's also the essence of fiscal responsibility - according to the conservative Cato Institute, the money saved by politicians being free to slash corporate welfare would fund over half-a-century of public funding and save taxpayers billions per year.

We all have our favorite issues. Mine is global warming. Yours may be health care. But progress will be blocked on all of these issues until we change the game. Unfortunately, politicians won't make reform a priority unless we demand it in stark terms.

So far, over $850,000 has been withheld in the donor strike by about 7,000 people (based on last cycle's contributions). Dianne Feinstein alone has lost over $200,000. When a politician puts their name on the Durbin-Specter bill, they're in the clear.

Together, we can Change Congress.