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May 27, 2021 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan Elias Alsbergas

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in Government

Justice Department Shot Through With Corporate Influence

The U.S. government is involved in hundreds of court cases each year, most of which are not followed closely. But the baseline assumption is that the government is defending the public interest and holding criminals accountable, even when most aren’t watching. Unfortunately, in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department, that is not uniformly the case. Key acting officials, drawn from the halls of corporate power, are riddled with conflicts of interest that are already affecting their ability to protect the public. If the Justice Department is to serve all Americans rather than bolster individual fortunes and entrench corporate power, Merrick Garland must stop elevating corporate attorneys who have gotten rich fighting on corporate America’s behalf.

May 13, 2021 | The American Prospect

Max Moran Dorothy Slater Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in GovernmentFinancial Regulation

Plumbing The Depths At The SEC

Progressives have generally seen Gary Gensler, the newly confirmed chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as a loyal advocate for the public interest. His tenure at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was one of the few bright spots in Barack Obama’s financial regulatory regime. But in April, Gensler named Alex Oh to be his director of enforcement, before she resigned a week later amid negative media attention. Before joining the SEC, Oh had directly facilitated an ExxonMobil executive’s obstinate deposition testimony (reportedly read off an attorney-drafted script) in the face of plaintiff objections—and the case itself centered on accusations of torture, rape, and murder by ExxonMobil-hired guards in an Indonesian village.

April 29, 2021 | The New Republic

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionGovernment Capacity

Trump Holdovers Are Dragging Down the Biden Agenda

During his campaign, Joe Biden repeatedly held out the promise of an FDR-size presidency—the better to counter the misrule of the Trump administration. It can be said that he has already made some admirable strides in that direction with the passage of the American Rescue Plan. As Biden reaches his 100th day in office, however, he may soon find that comparisons to his self-identified North Star don’t quite measure up. Roosevelt, after all, famously signed 15 major bills into law during his first 100 days, compared to Biden’s one (which isn’t to diminish the size or importance of that single accomplishment). Biden and his allies can, of course, point to considerable obstacles that Roosevelt didn’t need to surmount, such as the Democratic Party’s slimmer margins and the fact that the president does not literally control Congress.

April 29, 2021 | Talking Points Memo

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/Transition

The Rules Dems Could Change To Keep The Tom Cottons Of The Senate From Delaying Biden Noms’ Confirmations

Forty. That’s how many of Joe Biden’s nominees the Senate will have likely confirmed when his presidency crosses the 100-day mark this Friday. On average, it took these nominees 49 days to move from nomination to confirmation. With over 1,100 seats throughout the executive branch left to fill (not to mention hundreds more in the Judiciary), that glacial pace should worry you. Unfortunately, it can get even slower. And thanks to Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), it looks like it’s about to.

April 19, 2021 | The Daily Beast

Miranda Litwak

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionAnti-Monopoly

Silicon Valley’s Favorite Fixer Aims to Stop the Rising Left

But the old guard continues to wield significant power and will be hard pressed to admit defeat, as exemplified by political strategist Bradley Tusk’s continued success. Some might recall Tusk as New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s biggest critic. Others know him best as Silicon Valley’s favorite political fixer. Teachers’ unions probably remember him comparing them to the NRA. Tusk’s particular brand of politics—lobbying against regulation on behalf of companies he then invests in—in some ways represents the last gasp of corporate control over government that has run rampant since the Reagan era.

April 14, 2021 | The American Prospect

Henry Burke Sion Bell

Op-Ed

Government Capacity

Biden’s Budget Should Build Back Even Better

President Biden’s inaugural annual budget request, which encompasses only discretionary spending (about a third of the federal budget), is a $1.52 trillion proposed investment in the federal government. The rest of the request, to be released later this spring, will include tax reforms and mandatory spending (which includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and provide a fuller picture of the administration’s priorities.