Last week's debate over a government shutdown showed once again how easily campaigning can overshadow policy in Washington. Leaders tackled tough choices and set rhetoric aside, however briefly, only when faced with the pressure of a final deadline.
Corporate disclosure is not as TV-friendly as the budget battle, but since Congress passed new rules requiring more openness by oil and mining companies, a war of words has broken out over the Dodd-Frank provisions for fuller disclosure of oil and mining payments to governments. Citizens and investors around the globe, especially those in oil-rich countries, should hope that the debate over industry reporting rules also shifts to facts.
With the oil industry's high-octane warnings about the law, the stakes are particularly high. The big five U.S. oil companies had combined profits nearing $1 trillion over the past decade, as Dan Froomkin pointed out on Saturday in the Huffington Post, and the industry has spent nearly $1 billion on lobbying since 1998.