Elizabeth Warren’s mantra that “personnel is policy” has made its way into the new draft of the Democratic Party’s platform ahead of the 2016 presidential election, and has succeeded in writing language into the DNC’s platform that would close the “revolving door” of politics, where industry insiders would take government jobs, write regulations that favored their former industries, and then return to the private sector, rewarded with a fat paycheck and a corner office for the legal corruption they arranged. The new pledge in the “Fixing the Economy” section of the platform commits Democrats to appointing exclusively government officials “who are not beholden to the industries they regulate.” An excerpt of the pledge reads,
“We will crack down on the revolving door between the private sector — particularly Wall Street — and the federal government. We will ban golden parachutes for those taking government jobs. We will limit conflicts of interest by requiring bank and corporate regulators to recuse themselves from official work on particular matters that would directly benefit their former employers. And we will bar financial service regulators from lobbying their former colleagues for at least two years.”
Progressives have resoundingly applauded the addition to the platform. The Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, Lisa Gilbert celebrated the announcement “We are thrilled that elected and candidates alike have begun to recognize the tangible impact of having strong positions on keeping personnel conflict-free. Regulators should only be beholden to the public, not special interests and industry.”
Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project watchdog group was similarly pleased. “That commitment is a huge deal, as it means that Clinton embraces the idea that hiring skeptics of corporate misbehavior is a key metric to assess her administration. The high-profile nature of this platform fight and this specific language makes it much more consequential than little-noticed language in past platforms.”
The hard-wiring of an accountability commitment in the executive appointment process into the party’s platform is a much needed step and should prompt a sigh of reassurance from worried Sanders progressives. Our Democratic governors and if Clinton wins the White House, the president will be under a tremendous amount of pressure to make appointments that preclude corruption. Regulators will be recused from matters that they have a personal stake or conflict of interest in. Appointees who have extensive conflicts of interest in a policy area will not be put in charge of that area of policy.
It is critical to ensure a clean government where policy makers and enforcers are working for the public interest, not special interests. Too often the electorate is obfuscated from policies that they supposedly choose with their votes. Citizens might elect a candidate for their policies, only to find out that the policies are being implemented by a industry magnate biased in favor of their own personal interests.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton publicly announced her support for ending the revolving door back in August, saying that “the American people need to trust that every single person in Washington – from the President of the United States all the way down to agency employees – is putting the interests of the people first. We want to make sure that happens… if you’re working for the government, you’re working for the people – not for an oil company, drug company, or Wall Street bank.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. It’s far past time we cleaned our government of the corrupting influences of the oligarchs on Wall Street and K Street, and made it work for Main Street again.
Includes writing contributions by Marissa.