Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Senate :"Ethics" Rule

On Special Report With Brit Hume today, I watched the panel debate a Senate ethics rule against outside employment that kept Tom Coburn, an MD, from working in his medical practice during recesses. Charles Krauthammer felt it was a silly rule and only disclosure was needed while Juan Williams and Mara Liason defended it. As I listened, I had a thought that both sides were missing the point, that Dr. Coburn's problem was not an unanticipated consequence of the rule, but the intent.

Think of it as another version of the Incumbent Protection Laws that are laughingly called campaign finance reforms, but that always manage to hamstring challengers more than incumbents. The Founders envisioned citizen legislators, but that has not been the case for a long time. Most men or women who make it to the House or the Senate, intend to stay there for the rest of their lives. This is a rule that punishes the occasional citizen legislator but not the professional politician. Whatever the rationale given to the public, I bet the intent of the rule makers was to hang up a "Keep Out" sign.


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