Filling the swamp

Let the madness begin.

For months now, we’ve been hearing about Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp”. If you’ve been paying attention to his pronouncements (really, though, why would you bother when none of them means anything?), you know this swamp-draining thing is about lobbyists. Trump’s Big Idea is that there’s too much outside influence in congress and that lobbyists had created a swamp of money and corruption.

Trump pledged to “make our government honest once again”, which is pretty funny since the eight years of Obama have been scandal-free, the cleanest administration we’ve ever had thanks to strong ethics guidelines and vetting from Obama himself. Anyway, Trump’s 10/17/2016 proposal for sweeping ethics reform had five points:

First: I am going to re-institute a 5-year ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for 5 years after they leave government service. I am going to ask Congress to pass this ban into law so that it cannot be lifted by executive order.

Second: I am going to ask Congress to institute its own 5-year ban on lobbying by former members of Congress and their staffs.

Third: I am going to expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisers when we all know they are lobbyists.

Fourth: I am going to issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

Fifth: I am going to ask Congress to pass a campaign finance reform that prevents registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.

Not only will we end our government corruption, but we will end the economic stagnation.

There is huge shift in power about to begin Washington. Both houses of Congress will be controlled by Republicans, and the incoming Republican president is a “businessman” with more potential conflicts of interest that anyone in history. They want big changes to health care, infrastructure, and lots of other areas where private interests have historically exercised their lobbying clout to great effect.

But so far, Trump has shown little interest in backing up his words with any action. He’s stacked his transition team with lobbyists and insiders.  Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, has opened a new lobbying firm just a block from the White House, along with another Trump adviser, Barry Bennett.

If there was any doubt left about the Republicans’ actual intentions about ethics and lobbying, it was removed  yesterday. In a surprise vote with no public debate, House Republicans destroyed the Office of Congressional Ethics, which since 2008 has provided independent oversight over congress. It was set up in response to bribery allegations against Representatives Duke Cunningham, Republican of California; William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana; and Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio. All were convicted and served jail time.

In response Nancy Pelosi said, “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House G.O.P. has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

Another way to say it is that the new administration is closely adhering to the bumper sticker slogan we suggested for them when discussing the absurdity of the Electoral College, “The Opposite Is True”.

 

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