June 7, 2019

AOC and Cruz to Work Together on Anti-Lobbying Bill

“Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set aside their Twitter bickering [last] Thursday to strike an unusual bargain: an agreement to work together on a bill to ban former members of Congress from lobbying for life.” Politico

See past issues

From the Left

The left is supportive of lobbying restrictions but does not see this proposal as the best option.

“Is this a sign that bipartisanship has not totally and irrevocably flatlined in this hyper-polarized moment? Proof that not even Ted Cruz can resist AOC’s charming and engaging social media posts? Or just evidence that the scourge of the Congress-to-lobbyist fast-track is so rampant and destructive that even two people who likely see eye-to-eye on little in the world of policy can agree that something needs to be done about it?”
Jessica M. Goldstein, ThinkProgress

“This isn't the first time lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have taken up the anti-lobbying cause… Yet none of [the] past bills have managed to gain much traction, and adversaries have raised constitutional issues with the ban, since the First Amendment gives U.S. citizens the right to petition the government. But with such political star power behind it, will A.O.C. and Cruz's nascent bill finally be the one that manages to breaks through?
Alison Durkee, Vanity Fair

“Members of Congress in both parties are talking a big game about cleaning up Washington corruption, and House Democrats passed a major anti-corruption bill earlier this year that would crack down on lobbying. But even with the rare bipartisan momentum, some money in politics experts fear a blanket ban could have unintended consequences — pushing more people into so-called ‘shadow lobbying’... where former members of Congress still go to work for firms but even fewer actually register as lobbyists.”
Ella Nilsen, Vox

A lobbying ban isn’t enough… The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires lobbyists to register and disclose their clients if they spend more than 20 percent of their time on lobbying... Are you not a lobbyist if you only spend 19 or 15 percent of your time contacting government officials? Activities like buying ads or setting up astroturf websites to influence government officials also aren’t covered. A ‘government relations’ firm, for example, could spend $1 million on ads on the side of DC buses or at the Capitol South metro station saying ‘Congressman Funt Glunk, Vote No On HR. 69’ and never have to tell anyone on whose behalf they spent that money…

“A strict lobbying disclosure act, requiring more frequent and detailed disclosures and scrapping the bizarre 20 percent rule, would go a long way.”
Libby Watson, Splinter News

“If you ban lobbying jobs, the same corruption can sneak through in other channels. Consider, for example, Florida state Sen. Joe Negron, who was a staunch ally of the private prison industry while in office and then landed a cushy job as general counsel for a major private prison company. A job in a general counsel’s office isn’t lobbying. Neither is a gig on a company’s ‘public policy communications’ team. Or a job in a law firm’s government affairs practice. Or a ‘strategic consulting’ job. If a company wants to reward a former political ally with a lucrative job, a lobbying ban won’t stop that, and it’s honestly difficult to imagine what kind of rule would…

“It’s a nice feel-good story. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good idea. The most unseemly aspects of ‘the revolving door’ can’t effectively be curtailed by a lobbying ban, and attempting to craft an airtight one will distract reform energy from more important concerns. The real strength of moneyed interests in Congress derives from America’s unfortunate habit of starving its public institutions of resources. Give Congress more money to operate and pay members of Congress more and we’ll go a lot further to curb the power of special interests.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of lobbying restrictions but believes the current proposal would be unconstitutional.

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of lobbying restrictions but believes the current proposal would be unconstitutional.

“Beltway wealth is not mostly enjoyed by well-paid bureaucrats, but by former government officials who cash in their public service. While in office, they increase their market value by making government bigger and more complicated. The biggest businesses are fine with this, because they can afford to hire former members such as Trent Lott, Joe Crowley, John Boehner, and Tom Daschle. Mom and pop suffer, as do taxpayers in Topeka who subsidize an orgy of ill-gotten wealth in the federal capital… A lifetime ban on lobbying by members of Congress and Cabinet officials wouldn’t stop the revolving door completely, but it would slow it a lot.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“In principle, I like the idea. But constitutionally, I think it is a deeply problematic proposal. I’d be totally okay with a constitutional amendment… But it is not just [politicians]. It is their staff too. Frankly, I am more in favor of term limits for congressional staff than members of Congress and none of them should be allowed to lobby. But we can start with congressmen.”
Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

The right to petition is explicitly protected by the First Amendment, and there is no exception within its text for former government employees — employees who, after they have left office, enjoy precisely the same relationship with their government as does any other citizen. Were Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz, and co. proposing to prohibit former federal legislators from engaging professionally in other First Amendment–protected behavior — say, from becoming paid writers or paid speakers or paid clergymen — it would be extremely obvious to us that their idea was unconstitutional. It should be obvious here, too.”
Charles Cooke, National Review

“All Cruz and AOC need to do is convince a majority of their colleagues to, er, voluntarily ban themselves from [these] lucrative jobs after their time in Congress is over. And they somehow need to do it despite the fact that both of them famously earned their own seats in Congress by defeating establishment-backed candidates in competitive primary races. That is, Cruz and AOC have *personally* made centrist members of their party less secure in their jobs and now they’re spoiling to block those centrists from security in their next jobs…

“[And] even if the ban took effect, good luck enforcing it. Presumably ex-legislators would develop some formalistic workaround in which they’re hired on by corporate firms as ‘consultants’ or whatever and then work the phones informally with their former colleagues in Congress.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Working in DC is a full-time job, and lobbying firms hire people with relevant experience and contacts. Who are they supposed to hire? Former bartenders? Snarky tweeters? Idealistic pundits? You can’t outlaw Americans from gaining experience any more than you can outlaw them from staying in Washington. What you can do is vote for decent politicians, if such things exist

“[Furthermore] lobbying isn’t inherently unethical. There are lobbyists for construction workers, nurses, casket makers, lawn-care providers, and numerous other industries that most voters probably find morally neutral. Yet, not one of these outfits, not even the ones with the most money or the most politicized agendas, has ever controlled your vote or the vote of your cowardly elected official. Politicians rely on groups whose views comport with their own agendas. Banning speech won’t change that reality.”
David Harsanyi, The Federalist

“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

Outside Hong Kong, the silence Is deafening… Some protesters in Hong Kong today are adopting the British Union Jack flag, the American flag and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as symbols, yet that doesn’t seem to have stirred our collective imaginations… Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world…

“It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

On the bright side...

Dad is giving away homemade backyard rollercoaster for free.

New York Post

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.