Majorities Also Favor Ending Support for Former Presidents

Overwhelming bipartisan majorities support proposed legislation that calls for extending the period that former government officials must wait before they can lobby the government and prohibiting former executive branch officials from ever lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.  Similarly, large majorities favor ending the support the government currently provides for former US Presidents.

The survey of 2,482 registered voter was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland (PPC), and released today by the non-partisan organization, Voice of the People. To ensure that respondents understood the issue, they were given a short briefing on the proposal and asked to evaluate arguments for and against.  The content was reviewed by Congressional proponents and opponents of the legislation to ensure that the briefing was accurate and balanced and that the arguments presented were the strongest ones being made.

Currently, former Members of Congress are prohibited from lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office. Proposed legislation H.R. 383 by Rep. Posey [R-FL-8], H.R. 796 by Rep. DeSantis [R-FL-6], H.R. 1951 by Rep. O’Halleran [D-AZ-1] and H.R. 346 by Rep. Trott [R-MI-11] calls for extending this period to five years.  In the survey, 77 percent approved of such an extension, including 80% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats.

Extending the waiting period for senior Congressional staffers from the current one year to two years—as called for in H.R. 383 by Rep. Posey [R-FL-8]—was approved by 77%, including 79% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats.

Currently, senior executive branch officials are prohibited from lobbying their former agency for 1-2 years depending on how senior they were. H.R. 1934 proposed by Rep. Gallagher [R-WI-8], S.522 by Sen. Tester [D-MD], H.R. 796 by Rep. DeSantis [R-FL-6] and H.R. 484 by Rep. De Fazio [D-OR-4] call for extending this period to five years for all such officials.  This proposal was supported by 75%, including 77% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats.

“The American public seems to be eager to drain the swamp in Washington,” commented Steven Kull, director of PPC.

Currently, Americans can act as lobbyists for foreign governments, provided they register and report their activities to the US government.  Senior executive branch officials are only limited by the 1-2 year restriction for lobbying their former agency.  Proposed bills H.R. 796 by Rep. DeSantis [R-FL-6] and H.R. 484 by Rep. De Fazio [D-OR-4] prohibit former senior executive branch officials from any lobbying on behalf of a foreign government for the rest of their life.  This proposal was favored by 75%, including 81% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats.

The Trump administration has required political appointees in its administration to pledge to not lobby their former agency for five years and to never lobby the US government for a foreign government after they leave office.

The sample is large enough to enable analysis of attitudes in very Republican and very Democratic districts (based on Cook PVI ratings of the district the respondents live in).  In all cases, red districts were just slightly more supportive of the proposed restrictions.

Another set of questions presented a proposal to end the financial support for former US Presidents, as called for in H.R. 2298 sponsored by Rep. Sensenbrenner [R-WI-5].  Currently, former US Presidents get financial support to cover the ongoing costs associated with the activities of being a former president, including office space, staffing and travel.  In 2017, the government will spend approximately $4 million in support for the four former US Presidents.

Seventy-two percent favored the proposal, including 85% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats.  In very red districts 77% favored the proposal and in very blue districts 61% favored it.

The survey was conducted online from September 7- October 3, 2017 with a national probability-based sample of 2,482 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 2.0%.

View Questionnaire: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lobbying_Quaire_121217.pdf

View Slides: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lobbying_PastPresidents_Slides_1217.pdf


Overwhelming bipartisan majorities oppose the plan that the Federal Communications Commission will consider this Thursday, December 14, to repeal the regulations requiring net neutrality.

Respondents were given a short briefing and asked to evaluate arguments for and against the proposal before making their final recommendation.  The survey content was reviewed by experts in favor and against net neutrality, to ensure that the briefing was accurate and balanced, and that the strongest arguments were presented.

At the conclusion, 83% opposed repealing net neutrality, including 75% of Republicans, as well as 89% of Democrats and 86% of independents.

The survey of 1,077 registered voters was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland (PPC), and released today by the nonpartisan organization, Voice of the People.

“A decision to repeal net neutrality would be tacking against strong headwinds of public opinion blowing in the opposite direction,” commented Steven Kull, director of PPC.

To introduce them to the topic, respondents were told that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like Verizon or Comcast, are currently required to:

  • provide customers access to all websites on the internet
  • provide equal access to all websites without giving any websites faster or slower download speeds

and are not allowed to:

  • charge websites to provide faster download speeds for those who visit their website
  • charge customers, who use the internet, an extra fee to visit specific websites.

They were told that the proposal is to remove these regulations, though the ISPs would be required to disclose any variation in download speeds or blocking of any websites.

They were then presented the argument in favor of the proposal, saying that the restrictions are unnecessary, that they stifle innovation, that ISPs should be allowed to provide cutting-edge download speeds for companies that want them, that due to these restrictions the United States is lagging behind other developed countries in the development of the internet, and that disclosure requirements ensure that ISPs will not overreach.

Forty-eight percent said they found the argument convincing, while 51% found it unconvincing.  More Republicans found it convincing (59%) than Democrats (35%).

The argument against the proposal fared better.  It asserted that ISPs, though they do not provide website content, would be able to charge consumers ever-higher fees for internet access, that the big companies with websites could pay for the faster download speeds while smaller competitors could be driven out of business, that ISPs who provide content could block access to competitors who also provide content, and that all this would undermine innovation.

A much larger 75% found this argument convincing, including 72% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats.

Finally, respondents were asked to give their final recommendation on the proposal to repeal the existing restrictions on ISPs. Overall, only 16% favored the idea, with 83% opposed.  Among Republicans, 21% were in favor 75% opposed.  Eleven percent of Democrats favored the idea, with 89% opposed.  Independents were in between, with 14% in favor and 86% opposed.

The survey was conducted online from December 6-8, 2017 with a national probability-based sample of 1,077 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 3.0%.

View Questionnaire: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Net_Neutrality_Quaire_121217.pdf

View Slides: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Net_Neutrality_Slides_121217.pdf

Try Survey: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4057654/Net-Neutrality




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