Lately it doesn’t seem like both sides of the isle can agree on very much of anything, especially those who are polar opposites like Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But a few weeks ago they came together and agreed to write a bill banning former members of congress from becoming lobbyists, for life.
The revolving door between K street and Capitol Hill is wide open. K street sits just 3 miles from Capitol Hill and is known as the center for many lobbying and advocacy groups. Groups that have tons of power on Capitol Hill that most don’t even recognize. According to Public Citizen, which is a left-wing think tank, two-thirds of the 115th congress’ former members now work in Washington D.C. as lobbyists to “influence federal government activities.” Public Citizen found that “59 percent of those former lawmakers are employed by lobbying firms, consulting and business and trade groups while 14 percent were employed in television. Another 5% were working for lobbying firms and other groups on a state level with 7 percent working in academics or in the corporate world and 9 percent in law.”
Freshman Representative Alexandria Acosio Cortez tweeted that “If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around and leverage your service for a lobbyist check. I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period,” with a link to the article by Public Citizen. Just an hour later Senator Ted Cruz tweeted back with “Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC. Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”
Neither side can deny that this is a significant problem if we actually want the government to work for us instead of the lobbyists. Many from both sides of the isle have called for bans ranging from 1 year to lifetime bans. In 2016, Donald Trump called for a five year cooling period after leaving congress. But sadly I haven’t heard either side present any actual solutions that make sense. Donald Trump is right that we definitely need to drain the swamp.
Putting a lifetime ban on former members of congress from becoming lobbyists sounds great in theory, but will it actually drain the swamp? Is preventing former members of congress from becoming lobbyists even constitutional?
As private citizens we have the right to petition our government, because they work for us, or at least they are suppose to. A former member of congress is now just a private citizen just like you or I. So if we are going to go down this road, we will now be taking away their right as a private citizen to petition their government. You may not agree with their actions, but should they really lose their rights for life?
I don’t think that former members of congress should lose their right to petition. I have a better solution that is guaranteed to drain the swamp and it doesn’t require anyone losing their constitutional rights. We don’t need to pass any new laws to solve this problem. We only need to do one thing and lobbyists will flee K street. That is, significantly reduce the size and cost of government. Shrink the government back into the confines of the Constitution, which gives the government the power to provide national defense and protect our rights, which our founders believed come from God. That’s it. The moment we do that, a vast majority of the lobbyists will lose their power over our elected officials and you get your voice back. Politicians will once again be working for you, the American citizen.