Jeb Bush's plan to regulate Wall Street lobbying is unfair and utterly toothless

AP730917246001AP/David GoldmanFormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

Jeb Bush wants to keep Congress’ lawmakers out of lobbying gigs for six years after they leave Capitol Hill.

That’s three times as long as the law currently requires.

The problem with the proposal, according to regulators and Wall Street pros alike, it that the legislation is unlikely to pass, and that it arguably targets the wrong constituency.

Business Insider spoke with sources in Washington and on Wall Street to gauge how seriously Bush’s legislative pitch is being taken. The short answer: not very!

  • One legal expert says he’s not expecting Congress to do too much to curb its own pay after retirement (or being voted out of office by constituents). “Asking members of Congress to vote for restrictions on their conduct is like asking Bostonians to vote for restrictions on booing the New York Yankees,” he said.
  • The source did have some sympathy for the legislators, saying their career paths are limited after a stint on Capitol Hill. “The members who have been there a long time generally have three post-Congress options. They can live on their personal wealth, they can become a commentator on a news network, or they can become a lobbyist,” the legal expert says. “Some have the wealth, few have the talent to become a news commentator, but many have the talent to become a lobbyist.”
  • A source at a big investment bank expressed doubts over whether the legislation would go anywhere on Capital Hill. “He’s got to get it through Congress,” the source said of the legislation Bush wants to pass. “It’s pretty thin.”
  • One regulatory source said that Bush’s proposal might not cover enough ground. One place this is very clear is at Promontory Financial Group, a big recruiter of ex-legislators and regulators alike. “[D.C pros] like Anita Dunn, Harold Ickes [and] David Plouffe are the most effective lobbyists,” our source added, “while members [of Congress] are more likely to wind up in positions like Harold Ford as a rainmaker, not a lobbyist.”
  • The regulatory source added: “The staff are often more highly valued than the members [of Congress]. They know where all the bodies are buried.”

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