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Elizabeth Warren plan on government tax returns, lobbying, corruption

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elizabeth warren
Massachusetts Sen.
Elizabeth Warren

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  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a new plan to crack
    down on corruption and corporate influence in the
    government.
  • The plan includes proposed changes to lobbying rules,
    the ability of government officials to trade stock, corporate
    influence on regulations, and public information on
    judges.
  • While the current makeup of Congress will likely block
    the bill, the plan could bolster Warren’s populist image ahead
    of a possible presidential run in 2020.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday rolled out an ambitious plan to
change rules around lobbying, government transparency, and
corporate influence in government.

The bill, called the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act,
would make a series of changes to lobbying, financial interests
of government officials, and corporations’ ability to influence
policymaking. The changes would be substantial and affect every
branch of government.

In a speech Tuesday, Warren argued that the restrictions are
necessary to restore public trust in government and limit
corporate influence over regulators and lawmakers.

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,”
Warren said.

The plan has a few major points. Among the key changes would be:

  1. Barring high-level government officials from trading
    stocks:
    This appears to come in reaction to a series
    of questionable investments from current and former Trump
    administration officials as well as members of Congress. Most
    notably,
    GOP Rep. Chris Collins was charged
    with insider trading in
    connection with his family’s investment in an Australian
    biotech company. The bill would also force the president and
    vice president to place their investments in a blind trust.
  2. Severely limiting lobbying for former government
    officials:
    The bill would prohibit presidents,
    vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges, and
    Cabinet secretaries from lobbying after they left their posts.
    Other government employees would not be allowed to lobby their
    former employer for the rest of the current administration or
    two years — whichever is longer.
  3. Forcing presidential and vice presidential candidates
    to release eight years of tax returns:
     Members of
    Congress would also be required to release their tax returns
    every year.
  4. Barring American lobbyists from taking money from
    foreign groups
    : US-based lobbying groups would not be
    allowed to take cash from “foreign governments, foreign
    individuals, and foreign companies.”
  5. Increasing transparency around corporate influence on
    regulations and legislation:
     The bill would force
    authors of studies used in the rulemaking process to disclose
    funding sources. It would also attempt to limit the amount of
    time and access given to businesses in an industry to weigh in
    on regulations that impact their industry.
  6. Increase transparency regarding judges: It
    would bar single stock ownership by federal judges, require the
    disclosure of a judge’s financial records and public speeches,
    and require audio live streams of federal appellate
    courts.

Warren has long advocated for less corporate influence in
politics and more transparency in the rulemaking process. In
addition, the senator’s longstanding desire to stop or at least
slow the revolving door between lobbying and lawmaking sits at
the center of the bill.

Washington corruption is not a small problem, and it will
not be rooted out with small solutions,” Warren said in her
speech. “In addition to the big changes I talked about today, my
legislation contains dozens more ideas to promote clean
government, from giant reforms to small tweaks and everything in
between.”

The rules also appear to be taking aim at the Trump
administration, with provisions such as the requirement that
presidential candidates must release their tax returns.

Given the current composition of the Senate, with the GOP holding
a small majority, it is unlikely the plan gets passed into law
anytime soon. But it could serve to further Warren’s political
aspirations as rumors swirl about a possible 2020 run for the
Democratic presidential nomination.

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