- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2019

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren outlined a proposal this week designed to limit government officials from jumping ship and immediately working for “giant, dominant” firms like Facebook.

Under the plan, the Massachusetts Democrat would ban big corporations, banks, and “market-dominant” companies from hiring senior government officials for at least four years after they leave public office.

“Giant corporations should compete on a level playing field — and they shouldn’t be able to rig the system by scooping up every available former government official in an effort to get federal regulators off their backs,” her campaign said in announcing the plan.

Companies that break the rules would face a minimum fine of 1% of its net profit for the first violation, 2% for a second violation, and at least 5% for violations beyond that.

Ms. Warren’s campaign cited Facebook as a prime example of corporate America’s leveraging the experience of former government officials, but they also said it’s standard practice in Republican and Democratic administrations for companies like Pfizer, Google, BP, Citibank, AT&T, Boeing, and Comcast to “vacuum” up officials to try to curry favorable treatment.

Ms. Warren would also ban “massive federal contractors” like Lockheed Martin and Boeing from hiring senior government officials for at least four years after they leave office.

Gabbard on 9/11 documents

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Tuesday said she was reintroducing a resolution calling on the FBI to release information about whether the Saudi government was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“Families who lost their loved ones want the truth, and they deserve the truth,” the Hawaii Democrat said at a news conference in New York City.

She called on the Trump administration and the FBI to release the findings of their investigation into the Saudi government’s potential involvement in the attacks.

She is reintroducing a resolution “to require the FBI and intelligence agencies to release this important information to the American people,” she said.

“Not a highly redacted version of this information that makes no sense, but a declassified version that actually speaks to the truth of what led to that attack on 9/11,” she said.

The Saudi government has denied involvement in the attacks, though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

“[What] we still don’t fully know was whether or not they were aided by the Saudi government, enabling them to successfully carry out this attack on our nation,” Ms. Gabbard said.

Bullock on LGBTQ rights

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock released a plan designed to bolster the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Among other priorities, Mr. Bullock would direct the State Department to allow people to obtain gender-neutral passports and direct the TSA to treat transgender and gender nonconforming individuals fairly through increased training and technology.

“Every American deserves a fair shot at success, but systemic discrimination has blocked far too many members of the LGBTQ+ community from those same opportunities,” Mr. Bullock said.

Mr. Bullock would also direct the Justice Department to convene stakeholders and to prevent and prosecute acts of violence against the LGBTQ community, notably transgender women of color.

He would also allow transgender Americans to serve openly in the military, reversing a Trump administration policy that is now making its way through the courts.

Mr. Bullock would also ban gay-conversion therapy and repeal laws that make spreading HIV a criminal offense.

O’Rourke on criminal justice

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas released a plan to reform a “racist” U.S. criminal justice system that includes a goal of reducing incarceration by at least 25,000 inmates during his first term.

Mr. O’Rourke said it’s unacceptable that America locks up “more of our own” than any other country on the planet.

“We will not only reform this racist system but we will work to end mass incarceration by ensuring fewer Americans enter the system in the first place while prioritizing rehabilitation and successful re-entry for those who have been locked out of it — or locked up in it,” Mr. O’Rourke said.

To achieve his goal of reducing the prison population in federal facilities, Mr. O’Rourke would streamline the clemency application process and encourage the adoption of federal and state laws that let judges review sentences after a certain period of time.

Mr. O’Rourke would also repeal or revise parts of a 1994 crime bill championed by rival former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, including provisions that let prosecutors charge minors as adults for certain crimes and that expanded the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

He would also end mandatory minimum sentencing, end the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, reinstate a system of federal parole, and abolish the death penalty at the federal level.

Mr. O’Rourke also wants to ban private, for-profit prisons, end the cash bail system, and reform the civil asset forfeiture process — priorities that other 2020 contenders have mentioned or included in their own criminal justice proposals.

He would also boost resources for public defenders and wipe out outstanding loan debt of public defenders who have served five or more years.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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