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October 23, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Tech

Moderate Democrats Back a Privacy Bill, Minus the Privacy

“We need to start thinking not just about ticky-tack privacy rules, but what’s the reason why companies invade our privacy? And one of those reasons is the behavioral advertising model … it’s often manipulative. So we have to think about how these businesses are incentivized and structured if we want to get to the root cause of massive surveillance in our economy today.”

So declared FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra at a hearing on online platforms and market power last week. Chopra, who’s earned a reputation as a crusader in his short term thus far, was opening the door to a far deeper conversation about Big Tech than one usually hears in Washington, even in the midst of the so-called “techlash.”

October 23, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

Trump’s Hidden Attention to Detail in Avoiding Accountability

Eleanor Eagan
With each passing day, President Trump’s criminal syndicate looks weaker. Until recently, hoping for defections on the scale we’re seeing now might have seemed like a pipe dream, but it turns out that several of Trump’s former associates do have limits on what they will tolerate (even if it is sometimes puzzling where exactly they draw the line). Unfortunately, while several of these figures have been able to provide valuable testimony, none have had the power to hold Trump accountable directly. And conveniently, Trump has incapacitated those corners of the administration, like the Federal Election Commission (FEC) — which currently lacks a quorum and therefore cannot function — that are outside of his direct influence and therefore would have the power to hold him to account in the event of partisan defections. 

October 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly

Jeff Hauser Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

House Democrats Are Failing to Protect Farmers from Trump

Times are tough for American farmers. Everything from corporate consolidation to falling commodity prices is making it harder to get by. Strange, then, that the person most responsible for safeguarding their wellbeing, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, brought the following message to a gathering of Wisconsin dairy farmers: “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” In other words, he was telling the farmers: you’re probably screwed and there’s nothing you can do about it.

October 07, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Financial RegulationRevolving DoorTech

Freddie Mac Using Shady AI Company for Mortgage Loans

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giant, is testing underwriting software from fintech firm ZestFinance. A creation of ex-Google executive Douglas Merrill, ZestFinance claims to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot trends in a borrower’s record that traditional lending models miss. This supposedly allows more credit to flow to borrowers who need and can afford it, allowing Freddie to issue more mortgages.

October 04, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Congressional OversightIndependent Agencies

Revolving Door Project Joins Partners to Tell Trump: Rescind Executive Order Cutting Federal Advisory Committees

Eleanor Eagan
Today, the Revolving Door Project joined civil society partners to call on President Trump to rescind his Executive Order on Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees. This recent Trump executive order calls for the elimination of one-third of existing Federal Advisory Committees (FAC) that are not statutorily mandated. The Order claims to offer a remedy for a problem — bloat in the FAC system — that does not exist. It does identify an actual problem for corporate America, though — more input from civil society can indeed dilute corporate influence in the workings of the executive branch. The order is, therefore, nothing more than the latest in this administration’s string of attacks on independent expertise and the public interest.  

October 03, 2019

Newsletter

Congressional Oversight

CEPR's Impeachment Briefing

When Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry of Trump last Tuesday, CEPR’s Revolving Door Project (RDP) was already ahead of the news. RDP’s director, Jeff Hauser answered when reporters asked if Democrats would seek impeachment after the whistleblower allegations. Last year, he warned of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh’s proven willingness to rule “that the president is unreachable by the law while in office.”

October 03, 2019 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign Finance

The DNC’s Debate Gambit Prevents Donor Accountability

Late last week, the Democratic National Committee announced that it would hold only one October debate (on the 15th, rather than the 15th and 16th), packing the 12 qualifying candidates onto a single stage. As others have highlighted, the overcrowding will likely mean even less substance and more quibbling. There is, however, another important and overlooked consequence of the DNC’s decision: The single debate will slip in hours before the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) third-quarter fundraising filing deadline, delivering an undeserved blessing to candidates who don’t wish to answer questions about their unsavory fundraising ties.

October 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

Don’t Stop With Donald Trump, Democrats: Impeach Attorney General Bill Barr

It’s beyond redundant to say that Donald Trump must be impeached over the Ukraine scandal. The so-called transcript of his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelevsky released last week — really a collection of notes — was already damning evidence of the president manipulating foreign policy for his personal political goals. Then the actual whistleblower complaint reconfirmed and solidified the case. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald McGahn, even wrote a memo cautioning him that using law enforcement powers to target a political adversary would be illegal and clearly impeachable.
But if Democrats are going to uncover more information through aggressive hearings and ultimately impeach the president, they need to recognize their most powerful adversary: Attorney General William Barr.

October 01, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

September Update on the State of Independent Federal Agencies

Eleanor Eagan
The federal government’s forty independent federal agencies receive too little attention relative to their importance to our collective safety and prosperity. The Revolving Door Project has worked through multiple channels to shed light on these overlooked agencies and the threats that they face. We hope public education will generate pressure to safeguard the independence of these agencies and ensure that they are staffed with advocates for the public interest rather than corporate insiders. 

September 27, 2019 | Talking Points Memo

Eleanor Eagan Jeff Hauser

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

Now That The Impeachment Probe Is Official, House Dems Must Ramp Up Other Oversight

In soliciting election interference from Ukraine’s president, Trump did what had long seemed impossible; he committed an offense that even the most impeachment-phobic lawmakers couldn’t ignore. You don’t have to agree that this behavior is materially worse than other known misconduct — we certainly don’t — to celebrate that this particularly flagrant misstep sent the Democratic caucus over the edge. And since House Democrats are no longer paralyzed by a fear of falling into an unwanted impeachment inquiry, it is our hope that the Democratic caucus will finally begin to act like the opposition party it was elected to be.

September 24, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Congressional Oversight

With Impeachment (Slowly) Underway, Other Oversight is Still Needed

Eleanor Eagan
Impeachment proceedings are officially underway, meaning that the tedious debate over whether or not to open an inquiry is (at least, hypothetically) behind us. Following revelations last week that President Trump has taken Congress’ refusal to impeach as a blank check, it is even becoming plausible that the days of Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous ongoing opposition to impeachment are numbered. This is not to say that the impeachment fight is over; questions about the substance and style of the inquiry remain. Democrats, however, have crossed a major milestone. With the majority of the caucus no longer tied up by whether to even open an  impeachment inquiry, it is time they turn their attention to the other, related oversight they have neglected. Only then will they begin to resemble the opposition party voters thought they were propelling to power last fall.

September 23, 2019

Max Moran

Blog Post

Congressional Oversight

Key House Democrats Are Giving Betsy DeVos A Free Ride

Max Moran
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Education and Labor Committee five months ago. She sat down, cleared her throat, and proceded to dodge basic yes-or-no questions about everything from transgender rights to literacy programs to arming teachers for several hours. Through her evasiveness, and the many issues Democrats wanted to bring up, there was barely any discussion of the trillion dollar student loan crisis, a calamity chaining down a whole generation’s opportunity, and which is now larger than both credit card and auto loan debt. Over $1.4 trillion of the $1.5 trillion debt is part of the federal government’s student loan portfolio, which the Education Department oversees.

September 23, 2019 | Common Dreams

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

Why Are House Democrats Afraid to Wield Their Subpoena Power?

Does the Democratic leadership even want to wield power?

It’s hard to tell. Nine months into their House majority, Democratic committee chairs don’t seem to realize they have any powers at all besides the occasional sarcastic clap.

To be clear, Democratic House leaders possess a major power that Republicans can do nothing to block, obstruct, or impede: the power to issue and enforce subpoenas.

September 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly

Jeff Hauser Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

The Kitchen-Table Case for Impeaching Trump

After months of waiting, the House Judiciary Committee has finally voted to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. With that tedious “will-they-or-won’t-they” question out of the way, the logical next question is: can impeachment succeed? The answer is a resounding yes. But getting there will require a strategic reorientation away from a sluggish and legalistic examination of Trump’s offenses via recalcitrant witnesses and toward a broader consideration of how his systemic abuses of power have materially hurt regular people.