Revolving-door lobbyist Steve Ricchetti, Vice President Biden’s new top aide, exemplifies President Obama’s farcical crackdown on lobbyists. Ricchetti and his K Street firm also embody another core trait of this administration: using big government and populist rhetoric to enrich politically connected companies.
Bailout recipients like General Motors and Fannie Mae have retained Ricchetti Inc. for lobbying, as have Obamacare beneficiaries like the American Hospital Association and drug companies. But the most illustrative example of Ricchetti’s lobbying — and how it melds perfectly with the Obama administration’s governing — was his campaign to save the death tax.
Ricchetti founded the Coalition for America’s Priorities in 2005 and began a print and broadcast campaign in favor of preserving the estate tax, which Republicans were trying to permanently abolish.
The ads featured a Paris Hilton look-alike gushing over estate tax repeal. This helped frame the Democrats’ attacks on pro-repeal Republicans.
“There is a big moral dimension,” Ricchetti sermonized to the Christian Science Monitor in 2006, with lofty appeals to “basic fairness and equity” and “hard work.”
Media outlets covering this pro-death-tax campaign typically described Ricchetti as “co-chair of the Coalition for America’s Priorities,” and a former Clinton White House aide — omitting that he was a corporate lobbyist being paid to save the death tax by the life-insurance industry.
Well, dust my britches! Michelle-O’s not going to like that.