Last week, in what may be a harbinger of the apocalypse, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, found common ground with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, and the two vowed via Twitter to work together.
Before you start stocking up on dehydrated bananas, beef jerky and Army surplus gas masks, you should know their common ground is lobbying restrictions — something Americans of all stripes agree on and think is long overdue. In other words, it's a gimme, but we'll take it.
The proposal began with Twitter banter:
Ocasio-Cortez: "If you are a member of Congress (and) leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around & leverage your service for a lobbyist check. I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period."
She cited a report that members of Congress from both parties are cashing in.
Cruz: "Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC. Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?"
Ocasio-Cortez: "@tedcruz if you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down. Let’s make a deal. If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc — just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists — then I’ll co-lead the bill with you."
Cruz: "You're on."
Twitter agreements not being legally binding, we'll have to wait and see what happens. This is, after all, the same Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has called for a “9/11-style commission” to investigate U.S. policies and practices on the border, and the same Ted Cruz who has proposed using El Chapo's billions to build a border wall. In other words, asking them to work together is a huge ask.
Still ... if they're serious ... they could look to Missouri, where lobbying restrictions approved last fall by voters in Missouri are working — SPECTACULARLY.
A recent analysis of lobbyist spending in Missouri by KCUR, a public radio station, and carried by The Associated Press, found that contributions to Missouri lawmakers have dropped by 94% since voters put a $5 cap in place in November as part of a constitutional amendment. The radio station reported that lobbyists spent less than $17,000 on lawmakers during this spring's legislative session, compared with last year's spending of about $300,000.
Missouri also required state lawmakers to wait two years before becoming lobbyists. Not tough enough, but better than we had.
At the very least, we recommend using those detention centers on the border to lock up members of Congress who are caught trying to cross a boundary that ought to be protected — the one between lawmakers and lobbyists. And let's use El Chapo's money to build a wall around the U.S. Capitol to keep lobbyists out and members of Congress in.