November 07, 2019
Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced legislation last week to require the CEOs of the country’s largest banks to testify before Congress at least once per year. While this might seem a perfectly run-of-the-mill measure from an outside vantage point, it is a marked departure from this Congress’ aversion to most oversight (especially of corporations). Indeed, most members of Congress have shown no appetite for the type of populist, corporate oversight for which we at the Revolving Door Project have advocated. Pressley, along with a handful of other freshman Democrats (and Rep. Maxine Waters) are notable exceptions. It is long past time that their approach became more mainstream.
November 01, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
For the better part of this year, House Democrats have been consumed by a battle over how best to use their newfound power. One side called for impeachment from the start. The other side insisted that Democrats focus on kitchen table issues like health care. But the choice has always been false; the House can and should do both. In addition to the active impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to influence the 2020 election, there should be a second, no less serious impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare.
October 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly
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 04, 2019
Revolving Door Project Joins Partners to Tell Trump: Rescind Executive Order Cutting Federal Advisory Committees
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
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 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast
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.
September 27, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
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
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
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
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
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.
September 11, 2019 | The Daily Beast
The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight.
Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.
June 11, 2019
Since last fall, the Revolving Door Project has been working to ensure that House Democrats use their newfound majority to perform long overdue oversight that targets the intersection between outsized corporate influence and Trump-era corruption. We have argued that across the breadth of every issue area imaginable, such oversight not only represents good policy but also good politics. In a moment of deep skepticism about the integrity of elites and institutions across the globe, fighting against corruption could not be more timely. Despite our pleas, few Democrats have embraced this manner of populist oversight. This timidity is disheartening in all cases, but in certain areas, like Betsy Devos’ Education Department, it appears particularly egregious.
May 24, 2019 | BuzzFeed News
With the debate over impeachment raging, everyone from Nancy Pelosi to a wide swath of freshman Democrats is making a distinction between Congress working on oversight of the Trump administration, and Congress focusing on so-called kitchen table issues — things that make a real difference to people’s everyday lives. Don’t let one eat up precious time that could be spent on the other, so the argument goes.
May 16, 2019
Eleanor Eagan and Jeff Hauser
The financial industry has been the driving force behind some of the most damaging economic trends of our time. In spite of this fact, since the spasm of reform reflected in the Dodd Frank Act, financiers have faced very little scrutiny from lawmakers. Instead of regulating the industry, many governing officials from both parties have chosen to collect campaign checks in exchange for helpful votes. Maxine Waters has rejected this complacency in favor of aggressive oversight. The committee’s failure to oversee the industry for so long, however, has left a significant backlog of issues to examine, in addition to the plethora of new and novel issues emerging under this administration. In an effort to help advocates and members of the public understand the scope of the task that the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) faces, the Revolving Door Project has compiled a list of problems that deserve the committee’s scrutiny.