Washington’s Revolving Door
It’s still early in the 2016 presidential race, but voters are making one thing abundantly clear: they’re fed up with Washington and its cronyism. And with a revolving door allowing professional activists with an eye towards government overreach and job killing to move back and forth between lobbying the Administration and working for the same federal agencies, it’s not hard to see why voters are disgusted with the status quo.
Take the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It’s the five-member federal board in charge of determining when employees have the right to join a union, overseeing union elections, and preventing unfair labor practices. The members who sit on the board almost exclusively come from firms who have represented or worked for labor unions, and over the past year the NLRB has issued a host of decisions considered major wins for Big Labor, and losses for America’s small business owners.
One of the most glaring examples of the NLRB’s revolving door problem is Craig Becker. Before serving on the NLRB, he worked for two of the nation’s largest unions, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. After his tenure on the NLRB, he returned to the AFL-CIO as the union’s general counsel.
Unfortunately, the NLRB is far from the only federal agency staffed with former employees of big-moneyed special interest groups. The Environmental Protection Agency’s political appointees are pulled almost exclusively from the nation’s big environmental activist groups, including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), according to an investigation from E&E Legal.
These environmental activist groups run major campaigns aimed at completely eliminating fossil fuels in favor of renewables like wind and solar, which provide a paltry 5% of nation’s electricity generation, and would jack up power costs for both families and businesses. With the agency stacked with environmental group cronies, the current administration has issued a host of strict new environmental regulations expected to cost the economy over a trillion dollars.
In fact, these groups have been so involved with the EPA that the New York Times reported the agency used the NRDC’s draft carbon proposal as the “blueprint” to create the Clean Power Plan rule issued by the agency this summer.
Even our newest federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suffers from this revolving door problem. The CFPB was set up after the mortgage crisis and recession in the last 2000s to increase oversight of the financial services industry. The agency is stacked with employees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the lenders blamed for causing much of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and activist groups such as the Center for Responsible Lending, which push to severely tighten restrictions on financial services companies and lenders. Its employees regularly take their knowledge of the CFPB’s goals and regulatory plans to more lucrative positions in the private sector.
Earlier this month, Brian Webster, senior staff in the CFPB’s mortgage division, announced he was leaving the agency for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Before working in mortgages for the CFPB, Webster worked for Freddie Mac.
The revolving door problem is so bad at the CFPB it prompted inquiries from Congress after the CFPB’s deputy director and several senior staffers left the agency to start a new company using “extensive regulatory, industry, and capital markets expertise to provide unique counsel” to financial services companies.
After helping the Administration enact costly rules that advance their ideological agenda at the expense of job creators, these activists at the NLRB, EPA, and CFPB move into cushy, high paying private sector careers. Is it any wonder voters are fed up with Washington politics?