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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Outsource the House Ethics Committee

Michelle Cottle over at The New Republic’s site provides a simple but elegant case against the U.S. House of Representatives’ ability, certainly under current management, to police its Members’ ethical practices. She suggests its ethics committee be abolished as toothless and misleading, and I tend to agree.Giving congressional ethics rules the power of law, with criminal sanctions for those abuses that involve the selling of influence and the extortion of bribes, would be a good way to replace the current system. And for policing the less criminal but still important ethics violations, creating an indepedent ethics body for Congress, as Bruce Reed has suggested, is another good idea.But the key point is to understand that what we are experiencing these days is not a sound system being overwhelmed or undermined by egregious behavior, but an inadequate and dysfunctional system being exploited by the wolves who always thrive when the sheep have no real shepherd.

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