DeMint Joins Heritage Foundation
The revolving door in Washington continues to roll along with the retirement of long-time South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint. DeMint leaves to take over a highly paid position as the president of the Heritage Foundation in January 2013. The Heritage Foundation runs with an operational budget of $80 million.
DeMint has said that he intends to use the Heritage Foundation as a vehicle to popularize conservative causes. While this might be good for electoral politics, it severely injures the research potential of this institution. The Heritage Foundation is noted for leaning toward conservative positions, but taking on a former Republican elected official will shift it away from an ideological position toward a partisan one.
With so few reliable sources of information and research on the political right, the potential loss of credibility for the Heritage Foundation is worrying.
The Heritage Foundation spearheaded research into the individual health insurance mandate that would be championed by conservatives and moderates alike for more than thirty years. This provision, aimed to increase profits while expanding health coverage to more Americans, eventually became the backbone of Romneycare and Obamacare in the last decade.
The revolving door from the political realm to the policy/lobbyist realm has been around in Washington for generations. It is not uncommon for political members to leave public service in order to pursue multi-million-dollar paydays in the private sector.
Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich gave up his congressional seat more than a decade ago to pursue his fortune as a lobbyist. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel left the Clinton administration to pursue millions in investment banking. These political insiders brought little to the table in terms of experience or expertise, but they had the insider connections necessary to help certain organizations garner favor in government.
The fact that the revolving door in Washington is commonplace does not mean it is something the American people should put up with. Whether it is a former Republican senator turning a think tank into a partisan lobbying group or a Democratic representative becoming an influential voice in the financial community, the revolving door has to stop.