Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Term Limits and Lobbying Bans

You may not hear about it, since he can't help going off his script to talk about rigging the election and Crooked Hillary, but since yesterday Donald Trump has put out some actual policy proposals.

He wants to impose term limits on members of Congress and ban lobbying by former members and administration officials. His proposal would:

  • ban executive branch employees and members of Congress from lobbying the government for five years after leaving office
  • prohibit senior executive branch officials from ever lobbying on behalf of a foreign government
  • expand the definition of lobbyist to include people who label themselves “consultants” or “advisers” while helping clients access Washington elites and craft federal policy.
Trump's term limit proposal is vaguer than that; no number of years is given. Term limits sound like a good idea, and may even be something we could find common ground on between right and left. But of course, it's not that simple, as shown in this article from Governing magazine, which describes in detail the problems with term limits since they were imposed in California in 1990.

Still, I could imagine some form of term limits, just not extremely short ones like California's eight years. But surely, three or four six-year U.S. Senate terms and 20 years in the House is enough? I believe our elected representatives need time to become experts, but two decades should do it.

As for the lobbying ban, again, I think that some workable system could be figured out to decrease if not stop the revolving door. Decreasing or ending our current Supreme Court-endorsed legal assumptions — that money equals speech and corporations are people — would help.

Any lobbying restrictions will have to be modified once people figure out how to game the new system, but it's worth trying, and updating to improve it.

Clinton already has some similar proposals, though they're never covered in the news (though I bet they're on her website). According to USA Today:
Clinton has promised to call for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s [Citizens United] decision in her first 30 days as president and has endorsed legislation by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., that would clamp down on lobbyists posing as “consultants." The measure also would bar former executive branch employees from taking a job at a company they regulated for two years after leaving the government.
Those are obviously less extreme measures than Trump has proposed. I wonder if anything will come of any of this, though, since there is such a fox-guarding-the-hen-house reality when it comes to Congress regulating itself.

1 comment:

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I seem to recall Obama saying former lobbyists would not be hired to work in his administration...or something like that. And then not adhering to it. I don't pay attention to any details of Trump proposals, because Trump.