Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released an extreme plan on Tuesday to combat the "revolving door" of government lobbyists, and she connected lobbying rules that are too lax to today's concentration of power among a few major corporations.
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Her plan would ban corporations worth over $150 billion, "massive" federal contractors and companies controlling the product or labor supply in their industries from employing senior government officials as lobbyists until officials have had a four-year cooling-off period.
"Today, it is standard practice in Republican and Democratic administrations for giant mega businesses like Pfizer, Google, BP, Citibank, AT&T, Boeing, and Comcast to vacuum up anyone and everyone who leaves one of their government regulators in an obvious effort to leverage their new hire's political connections," Warren wrote in her plan. "As the revolving door between the largest corporations and government has spun out of control, our economy has grown much more consolidated, with just two companies now controlling over half of the market in hardware, pharmacies, car rentals, railroads, shipbuilding, and many other industries."
Warren recommended hefty fines for companies that might violate her proposed ban: a minimum of 1% of a company's net profit for a first violation, 2% for a second violation, and at least 5% of profits for any subsequent violation.
"The Office of Public Integrity, a new ethics watchdog that would oversee these restrictions, will also have the power to prohibit an offending company from receiving a contract or license from the federal government or bar the company from employing any federal employees for up to eight years," Warren wrote.
For Example, if Facebook were to exceed two violations, the company would owe more than $1 billion under the senator's plan.
Warren took a thinly veiled jab at Facebook when she released her proposal, referencing its CEO Mark Zuckerberg's promise to "go to the mat" should Warren or any other politician try to break up the company.
"I have promised to expand and aggressively enforce our antitrust laws by breaking up big tech companies and big agribusinesses, and by blocking anti-consumer health care mergers and anti-competitive practices in the education sector – and it's why I am committed to stopping these companies from using their monopoly profits to vacuum up government officials to secure favorable treatment," she wrote.