In Washington, D.C., every debate is an opportunity for lobbyists and cash-hungry legislators
My colleague Molly Ball explains why Rick Perry's proposal for a part-time legislature with less staff making lower salaries would likely increase the problem of corruption and conflicts of interest. In fact, many of the reformers who are most intent on cleaning up Washington, D.C. and disempowering lobbyists argue that we need to pay legislators more, in exchange for forbidding them from taking many sorts of jobs after they leave office, and that inadequate funding for their staffs presently makes them reliant on the research and communications machines lobbying shops offer.
What I'm here to tell you is that Perry's proposal to sunset all federal regulations unless Congress voted to extend them would likely have unintended consequences too. Sunset tools, whereby rules or laws expire at a fixed time, began as a way to permit experimentation and prevent rules, once implemented, from carrying on via inertia -- but these provisions have ended up as a way for politicians to collect campaign contributions. If there's just one big fight about whether or not government should implement Rule X, lobbying happens and the matter is decided. Whereas if politicians can arrange it such that the battle over Rule X is re-fought every year, interested parties wind up paying lobbyists and making campaign contributions annually.