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A Push for Ethics Laws That Do Not Depend on Shame

by | Jan 12, 2021 | News

The New York Times looks at potential reforms in light of the rioting in Washington, D.C. last week. From the article:

“If anything, the events at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday create even more urgency to swiftly reform the structural flaws in our democracy,” said Representative John P. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the legislative effort.

Among the changes embraced by House Democratic leaders are limits on the president’s pardon powers, mandated release of a president’s tax returns, new enforcement powers for independent agencies and Congress, and firmer prohibitions against financial conflicts of interest in the White House.

These types of reforms would have made sense decades ago, but politicians have been hesitant to curb their own power. It’s unfortunate that it takes an act of violent insurrection to prompt such changes. Ethics rules in Washington have been guidelines rather than laws for far too long. Perhaps while Congress is in the mood to do the right thing, they will also enact more stringent ethics laws to themselves.

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