Cato Institute on Government Reform



FactCheck: Whistleblower rules never require 1st-hand report

Pres. Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory suggesting the rules for whistleblowing had recently changed in order to accommodate the recent whistleblower complaint against him; specifically, so that someone with secondhand knowledge could now submit these complaints. "WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!" Trump tweeted.

The theory was initially propagated by The Federalist website on Sep. 27. The article claims that in "Aug. 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings."

Facts First: This is false. The whistleblower submission form was revised in Aug. 2019, but the revision did not change the rules on who can submit a whistleblower complaint. The inspector general of the intelligence community said that having firsthand knowledge of the event has never been required in order to submit a whistleblower complaint.

Source: Cato Institute FactCheck on 2020 Twitter post / voting , Sep 30, 2019

Term limits of 6 years in House and 12 years in Senate

The most common reelection rate for House members over the past 30 years is 98 percent. 98% reelection--that's what you expect to see in Russia, not in a democracy.

Americans don't want a permanent ruling class of career politicians. But that's what the power of incumbency and all the perks that incumbents give themselves are giving us. We want a citizen legislature and a citizen Congress--a government of, by, and for the people. To get that, we need term limits. We should limit members to three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. Let more people serve. Let more people make the laws. And let's get some people who don't want to make Congress a lifelong career.

Some say that term limits would deprive us of the skills of experienced lawmakers. Really? It's the experienced legislators who gave us a $17 trillion national debt, and the endless war in Iraq, a massive government spying with no congressional oversight, and the Wall Street bailout.

Source: Cato Institute 2017 voting recommendation on Term Limits , Jan 26, 2017

Congress can decide which "emoluments" are acceptable

Potential conflicts arising from foreign patronage of Trump properties are going to come up day after day. Trump points out that the president is exempt from the conflict-of-interest laws that bind Congress, but that doesn't mean he will escape scrutiny from public opinion, including the Emoluments Clause. "Emolument" includes payments for services rendered, even if at arm's-length rates with no overpayment.

The wording of the Emoluments clause points one way to resolution: Congress can give consent, as it did in the early years of the Republic to presents received by Ben Franklin. It can decide what it is willing to live with in the way of Trump conflicts. If it misjudges public opinion, it will pay a political price at the next election.

If it doesn't act, could someone sue to enforce the Emoluments Clause? The Supreme Court could turn the dispute down on the grounds that it's a political question for which the indicated constitutional remedy should be impeachment.

Source: Cato Institute 2016 voting recommendation on Emoluments , Nov 29, 2016

Term limits oppose professionalization of legislators

Six considerations may explain political scientists' open hostility to term limitation:
  1. Political scientists were instrumental in promoting the professionalization of legislators.
  2. The revisionist approach to democratic theory continues to influence the way most of them view democracy.
  3. They are cynical about the attentiveness, general knowledge, and judgmental capacity of the average voter.
  4. They are committed to the conservation of leadership.
  5. They perceive attacks on professional politicians as a threat to their own self-proclaimed professionalism.
  6. And political partisanship may encourage them to oppose term limits.
Political scientists should lend their expertise and skills to the public debate about the wisdom of term limitation. They should bring to that debate the commitment to data collection, vigorous analysis, and well-crafted arguments that is characteristic of a systematic and scholarly approach to political inquiry.
Source: Cato Institute 2015-16 voting recommendation on Term Limits , Feb 18, 1992

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Government Reform.
  • Click here for a profile of Cato Institute.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Cato Institute.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Cato Institute.
Other pundits on Government Reform: Cato Institute on other issues:

Opinion Leaders on the Right:
Cato Institute
Milton Friedman (Nobel Economist)
Rush Limbaugh (Radio Talk Show Host)
Ayn Rand (Author and Philosopher)
Heritage Foundation (Think Tank)
Libertarian Party
Republican Party
Ronald Reagan(President,1981-1989)
Joe Scarborough (Former Congressman; Radio Host)

Opinion Leaders on the Left:
American Civil Liberties Union
Democratic Party
Noam Chomsky (Author and Philosopher)
Green Party
Arianna Huffington (Internet Columnist)
Robert Reich (Professor and Columnist)
Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
John F. Kennedy(President,1961-1963)
Sierra Club
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Apr 30, 2021