“Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: People don’t trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people. And here’s the kicker — they’re right.”
This is the candid message Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered in a Tuesday-morning speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Warren used the forum to unveil her Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, designed to “eliminate the influence of money in our federal government,” specifically pertaining to the activities of K Street and its “revolving door” mentality while enhancing current anti-corruption laws and promoting government transparency.
Warren’s bill is intended to accomplish numerous imperatives: ending corporate rule over regulators and lawmakers, strengthening ethics restrictions on federal judges and elected officials to prevent graft, ending stock trading among members of Congress beyond “conflict-free investments like mutual funds,” and creating transparency in elected officials’ tax documents and financial transactions.
First, it would “padlock the revolving door between big business and government,” enacting a lifetime ban on elected and appointed officials from becoming lobbyists after they leave office.
Second, by including those who lobby under pseudonyms, the bill would “fix the Swiss cheese definition” of lobbying.
Third, the bill would require “public disclosure of any documents that lobbyists provide to government officials,” a “windfall tax on excessive lobbying,” and raise congressional staffers’ pay so they “don’t feel compelled to audition for jobs with influence peddlers when they should be standing up to them.”
Fourth, Americans would be prohibited from receiving payment from foreign governments to lobby Congress.
Warren defended this provision by stating:
“If foreign governments want to express their views, they can use their diplomats.”
Last week, Sen. Warren introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, intended to mandate chartered U.S. corporations to offer forty percent of their board of director positions to workers, and prohibit corporations from engaging in political spending without three-quarters of its directors and shareholders’ approval.
In a companion op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Warren wrote:
“[Traditionally] corporations sought to succeed in the marketplace, but they also recognized their obligations to employees, customers and the community.”
She goes on to explain how this is no longer the case, and both her bills seek to eliminate enormous financial incentives tempting CEOs to pay shareholders rather than reinvest in their businesses.
She wants corporations to invest less in politics and more in their workers.
Although neither of these bills is likely to wind up on Donald Trump’s desk, they are nonetheless bold policy proposals, like Medicare-for-All and the College-for-All plan, that provide Democrats with a progressive agenda going into the 2018 mid-term elections in November.
Warren promised in her speech:
“I plan to fight to pass as many of these reforms as possible. I believe we can break the stranglehold that the wealthy and well-connected hold over our government.”
We once had a country where that was the case.
Sen. Warren believes we can be that country again.
Image credit: Wall Street Journal