Jeb Bush would drastically extend the "cooling off period," for congressmen and senators eyeing K Street jobs to six years, up from the current one or two years. The GOP presidential candidate will announce this proposal in a speech today.
Typically it's Democrats who focus on the problems of the revolving door, but the phenomenon is arguably more destructive for conservative causes. Witness the Great Obamacare Cashout and the Great Dodd-Frank Cashout. These demonstrate how lawmakers have every incentive to expand government involvement in industry — through regulations, subsidies and mandates — thus maximizing their own value to industry.
Bush will say in his speech today:
After all, it's the relentless expansion of government that made lobbying Washington's premier growth industry. Restrain federal spending and bureaucratic meddling, and we'll disrupt the culture that thrives on big government.
I know how that kind of culture works – I saw it here in Tallahassee. Over time, lobbyists and legislators grew a little too comfortable in each other's company, cutting deals that didn't have much to do with the public interest. So along with all the other changes we made, I signed into law some of the strictest lobbying reforms in the country.
Even before I took office, I signaled a new way of doing business by forbidding lobbying by any member of my transition team. As governor, we ended the practice of lawmakers accepting gifts from lobbyists. The reforms I signed also required lobbyists to disclose information about their clients, their expenses, and their compensation – so the public would know who they were working for.
Then there's the pattern of so many outgoing members of Congress who quickly become lobbyists themselves, as if merely moving on to the business end of the same enterprise. We need to help politicians to rediscover life outside of Washington, which – who knows? – might even be a pleasant surprise for them. If I am elected president, I will use all of my influence to enact into law an immediate, unequivocal six-year ban on lobbying – a full Senate term - for ex-members of the House and Senate.
This could highlight a weakness for Hillary Clinton, who operates at the very intersection of government and K Street.