Issue Position: Lobbying and Ethics Reform
Seal the Pork Barrel
Among the most glaring abuses in Washington is the willful setting aside of taxpayer dollars for the pet projects of special interests, often through last minute additions to appropriations bills. Pork barrel spending is an insult to taxpayers, a waste of public resources, and an abdication of our leaders' responsibility to be good and honorable stewards of the public treasury, for the benefit of all Americans, not just a few.
Too often it appears that elected leaders use the treasury as a campaign kitty, channeling taxpayer dollars for pet projects to preserve incumbency rather than to meet national needs. John McCain has been a tireless warrior against wasteful spending, and one of the few leaders who has the guts to challenge abusive Congressional earmarks and the pork barrel politics that grip Washington. John McCain understands that, fundamentally, wasteful spending is an issue of ethics.
As he pointed out recently as part of his longstanding, principled, and often lonely vigil against pork barrel earmarks in Congress: "Earmarked dollars have doubled just since 2000, and more than tripled in the last 10 years. This explosion in earmarks led one lobbyist to deride the appropriations committees as favor factories. The time for us to fix this broken process is long overdue." As President, John McCain would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse, use the power of the presidency to restore fiscal responsibility, and exercise the veto pen to enforce it.
Stop the Revolving Door and Restore Ethics
America deserves and demands a government that serves the country, not itself. Most people believe that elected leaders are more interested in the perks and privileges of office than in public service, and that too often the special interest lobbyists with the fattest wallets and best access carry the day when issues of public policy are being decided.
John McCain has fought the good fight against the practices that alienate the public from their elected leaders. He has fought for public disclosure of those who lobby lawmakers for a living, and to prohibit them from providing gifts to elected officials.
He has fought for greater transparency regarding the official activities of lobbyists, disclosure of those who arrange for lawmakers' travel, and require members to pay full charter rates when using corporate aircraft.
He has fought the "revolving door" by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided.
He has fought for an independent ethics office in Congress to help restore the public's faith in the integrity of the legislative branch.
Democracy is Not for Sale
The American people have been alienated from the process of self-government by the overwhelming appearance of their elected leaders having sold-out to the big-moneyed special interests who help finance political campaigns.
As John McCain has said, "Americans believe that political representation is measured on a sliding scale. The more you give the more effectively you can petition your government." It is no coincidence that the most influential lobbyists with the greatest access in the nation's Capitol are also the most prolific political fundraisers, and that incumbents attract money in far greater volumes than most challengers.
Most Americans understand that competitive elections in a free country require money. Since campaigns require spending funds to communicate with voters, they know we can never take money completely out of politics, nor should we. Americans have a right to support the candidates and the parties they endorse, including financially if they so choose.
But what most Americans worry about profoundly is corporations or individuals with huge checks seeking the undue influence on lawmakers that such largesse is intended to purchase. That is why John McCain has fought to enforce long-standing prohibitions on corporate and union contributions to federal political parties, for sensible donation limits, disclosure of how candidates and campaigns are funded, and the diligent enforcement of these common sense rules that promote maximum public participation in the political process and limit opportunities for corruption.
John McCain understands that in America the people are sovereign, and deserve a political process worthy of the sacrifices that have been made by so many to keep us free and proud. As President, John McCain will see to it that the institutions of self-government are respected pillars of democracy, not commodities to be bought, bartered, or abused.