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Elisabeth Warren’s Anti-Corruption Proposal and my Criticism

by Peter A. Belmont / 2019-08-12
© 2019 Peter Belmont


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Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a sweeping legislative proposal to limit corruption in the federal government —I’d say it has no chance of passing!—and it is well worth reading.

Her proposal is described in this article.

OVER-ALL COMMENT


There’s a lot, a real lot, in Warren’s proposal, and well worth reading.

But there’s also a lot missing, although what’s missing may well be missing because of “the Constitution, as interpreted,” that is, the horrible ideas that “political speech” may not be limited by legislation, that “political spending” is a form of “political speech”, and that corporations (and I suppose other non-human-person entities) are entitled to all the protections of free speech; this protection possibly reaching so far as to embrace foreign corporations and domestic corporations substantially owned or run by foreigners or by foreign governments or doing substantial business outside the USA.

Here’s an extract from the article:
What’s in the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act

The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is a wide-ranging bill that focuses on getting money and lobbying out of politics in all three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. There’s a lot in the proposal, but here are the key parts:

     A lifetime ban on lobbying for presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet secretaries.

     Multi-year lobbying bans for federal employees (both Congressional staffers and employees of federal agencies). The span of time would be least two years, and six years for corporate lobbyists.

     Requiring the president and vice president to place assets that could present a conflict of interest — including real estate — in a blind trust and sell them off.

     Requiring the IRS to release eight years’ worth of tax returns for all presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as requiring them to release tax returns during each year in office. The IRS would also have to release two years’ worth of tax returns for members of Congress, and require them to release tax returns for each lawmaker’s year in office.

     BBanning members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, White House staff, senior congressional staff, and other officials from owning individual stocks while in office.

     Changing the rulemaking process of federal agencies to severely restrict the ability of corporations or industry to delay or influence rulemaking.

     Creating a new independent US Office of Public Integrity, which would enforce the nation’s ethics laws, and investigate any potential violations. The office would also try to strengthen open records laws, making records more easily accessible to the public and the press.



MY CRITICISM


There is nothing in Warren’s proposal about banning corporate [and other non-human-person] gifts to campaigns or dark money spending or other political spending.

     I know, I know, the Constitution as interpreted!
     I know, I know, the Constitution as interpreted!

However, her proposal does include:
End Legalized Lobbyist Bribery. Stop lobbyists from trading money for government favors.

* Ban direct political donations from lobbyists to candidates or Members of Congress.

* End lobbyist contingency fees that allow lobbyists to be paid for a guaranteed policy outcome.

* End lobbyist gifts to the executive and legislative branch officials they lobby.


But is this enough? Is it even possible? If you can ban lobbyists from making direct donations to candidates (or incumbents?), why cannot you ban the making of direct donations by other agents of corporations such as corporate officers, the corporations themselves, and organizations funded by corporations?

There is nothing in Warren’s proposal about limiting total personal political spending by (rich) people—such as a $10,000 (or come to that, a $1000) personal annual limit on political spending,

     I know, I know, the Constitution as interpreted!
     I know, I know, the Constitution as interpreted!

There is nothing in Warren’s proposal about “revolving doors” (or merely “open doors”) (except w.r.t. lobbying) such as Secretaries of Treasury right out of Goldman Sachs, etc.

However, her proposal does indlude:
Require most executive branch employees to recuse from all issues that might financially benefit themselves or a previous employer or client from the preceding 4 years.
and
Limit the ability of companies to buy influence through former government officials.

• Require income disclosures from former senior officials 4 years after federal employment.

• Prohibit companies from immediately hiring or paying any senior government official from an agency, department, or Congressional office recently lobbied by that company.

• Prohibit the world’s largest companies, banks, and monopolies (measured by annual revenue or market capitalization) from hiring or paying any former senior government official for 4 years after they leave government service.
and
• Ban “Golden Parachutes” that provide corporate bonuses to executives for federal service.

A lot of these proposals can be “got around” by the usual shenanigans, but many proposals are aimed at making corporate manipulations public, so we can at least see, if not stop, corporate manipulations of government.

It’d sure be a good start.









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