Jeb! Will Look at Ex-Military Lobbyist Role

Judy on December 21, 2015
When Jeb Bush emphasized the need for lobbying reform in his stump speech, Judy asked if a 6-year ban on lobbying would also apply to ex-military officials. "That’s a good question," he said, and added that the military procurement system is "lobbied up beyond belief." In response to another question, Bush advocated maintaining the nuclear weapons "triad" and building a new generation of nuclear submarines.

In his introductory remarks, Jeb Bush issued a critique of the revolving door between elected office and lobbying firms. 

"We need to make sure that lobbyists don’t control everything.  If you finish your term of service as an elected official you shouldn’t go out the back door [and] start lobbying the people that you were serving with the day before.  There should be a six year ban on elected officials lobbying," he said. 

"We ought to make sure there is total transparency, to make sure that if people have problems, that their government is the servant, rather than the master," he added.

I was the first person Bush called on during the Q&A, and decided to follow up on the lobbyist issue. 

"I was really impressed to hear about your proposal for a six-year ban on lobbying," I said.  "And some of the people who rake in the most from lobbying are retired congressional staffers and also people who work at the Pentagon, both military and civilian.  So I’d really like to know if you would extend that six-year ban to those people also."

"That's a good question," Bush responded.  "I’d have to look at the impact of that. But there should total transparency.  So if you’re meeting with a lobbyist and you’re a staffer on a committee of great importance or you’re a big dog inside the Department of Defense and you’re being lobbied, there should be 24-hour notice.  It should put be on the Internet.  There should be complete transparency about this.  Then people can make up their mind whether it’s appropriate or not. Then I think across the board, an open government, more transparent government is what we need.  This president promised the most transparent government in American history, and we haven’t gotten it.  We’ve gotten the exact opposite. So the best way to deal with the transparency issues is to open it up."

"It could be that staffers, you know, that’s a revolving door as well. And it does make sense to look at it," he went on.

"The other thing we need to do at the level of the Defense Department is make sure there’s more than three contractors.  We’ve created such a confusing, convoluted procurement system, and it’s been lobbied up beyond belief, that you have the big defense contractors, and the cost is higher. They’re aggregators in effect.  All the other parts of the operation they subcontract out.  They use their influence to be able to get these contracts. There’s all sorts of legal costs associated with it.  The warfighters don’t get the equipment necessary at the scene that they should.  So one of the other elements is to embrace procurement reform, so that we have more contractors and it’s based on merits rather than influence," he added.

Later in the program, the topic of nuclear weapons came up when a man in the audience said, "I was stationed at a nuclear missile site in Germany back in the Seventies.  So I was a little astounded to hear …"

"About the nuclear triad," Bush interjected.

"Yeah," the questioner continued.  "A guy standing on the stage debating with you had no idea what the nuclear triad was.  And when consistently asked over and again what he would do to modernize it, he had no answer. Could you fill him in, could you give us an answer?"

"Yes, it was breathtaking," Bush responded.  "I mean, it was breathtaking. I don’t know how else to describe it. I mean my face probably, my jaw dropped down.  The triad is air, land, and sea launch capabilities to create a deterrent effect that has been extraordinarily effective since the World War II era and has brought stability to the world.

"Trump’s advisor, communications director, this morning, I believe, said, 'Hey, it’s not understanding the triad, that’s not the big deal.  It is making sure you have a president who will use nuclear weapons.'"

"No. No. No. Fifteen yard penalty, loss of down.  That’s not what the objective is," Bush asserted.  " I mean, think about it.  This is not a serious man with a serious proposal.

"And we’ve allowed for the triad to languish, in a sense. We haven’t invested in modernizing it.  And it’s both dangerous, not to do that, and we need to make sure that we have this deterrent situation. Which means that we need to ….  Our submarine capability, which is perhaps, if I was answering the question, I’d would have said that’s probably the place where we need the greatest emphasis.  Because the Ohio-class submarines need to be modernized. It needs to be done now.  We can’t wait any longer.  So across the board, all of the legs of our deterrent effect is important.  But to have a president who does not understand the sober, somber responsibilities of having access to the nuclear codes.  I mean, well, you wouldn’t, you must have, like, spit up your Diet Coke. (Laughter.)

"But people in New Hampshire are going to have to ask themselves the question.  Do they really want a guy, who doesn’t, you know, he may have thought that the nuclear triad was a tripod or something, a new kind of a camera or something.  I don’t know," Bush said.  "But do you really want someone who is entertaining, but is not a commander-in-chief, to be President of the United States?"

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