Public Citizen has a new report out today about the revolving door between Congress and K Street: “Forty-three percent of members of Congress [including fifty percent of all Senators] who left office since 1998 and were eligible to lobby have become lobbyists.” Now Public Citizen recommends sticking a foot in the door and enacting a bunch of “tough love” measures—like implementing a “cooling-off period” of two years after a legislator retires—that, while nice, have no chance whatsoever of passing. Members of Congress may have cut their own pay twice during the Great Depression, but they’re not about to back away from the goldmine now.
A better compromise would be to raise Congressional salaries to fairly high levels, maybe even boost their pensions, combined with a series of measures to clog up the revolving door, which would make members of Congress less likely to seek out lucrative lobbying jobs. Egad, right? Expand congressional salaries in a time of staggering deficits? Well, it’s either that or waste money on lavish government subsidies for big businesses that have hired former Senators to lobby for them. Giving the bums a raise isn’t quite as noble as Public Citizen-style austerity measures, but it has a better chance of working, no?