Washington's 'Revolving Door' Under Scrutiny

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Ethics Rules

Congressional ethics rules place all sorts of limits on what people who leave government can do, including restrictions on their ability to communicate with and lobby their former colleagues. But for people who leave the private sector to work on Capitol Hill there are no such restrictions.

The Washington Post reports there are a number of people now in position to help their former employers if they choose to do so.

The chief of staff to the House Energy and Commerce Committee is a former lobbyist and strategist for DaimlerChrysler. The chief counsel for that committee is a former lobbyist for Verizon. The chief of staff for the House Rules Committee is a former lobbyist for a firm representing a major automaker and the oil industry. And the senior adviser to House Democratic Whip James Clyburn is on unpaid leave from Microsoft, where he is director of federal government affairs.

CAIR Concern

There is growing criticism for the federal government's cooperation with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR. The group has worked with the FBI, homeland security, the TSA and other agencies on projects such as sensitivity and diversity training and public outreach.

But critics point to CAIR's affiliation with a Texas-based group that provided funds to Hamas, questions about CAIR's overseas funding, the group's refusal to condemn terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and the conviction of at least four officials on criminal charges.

Lawmakers who have criticized CAIR include Democrats Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer, who recently rescinded a certificate of accomplishment given to the head of CAIR's Sacramento chapter.

But a FBI spokesman tells Cybercast News Service that working with the group is an important part of the bureau's counterterrorism campaign.

NYC Tax Cuts?

The strength of the economy is so great that even New York City is running a huge surplus and Mayor Michael Bloomberg today proposed a massive tax cut.

Bloomberg wants a $1 billion reduction that would include cuts in property and business taxes and the elimination of the city sales tax on clothing and footwear. The New York Sun reports experts predict the city's surplus will be higher than $2 billion this year, defying the expectations of many economists.

Return of the Fairness Doctrine?

Some congressional Democrats are pushing to reinstate the old Fairness Doctrine, a regulation dropped by the FCC in 1987 that compelled over-the-air broadcasters to offer competing points of view on political issues.

Many critics feel the new push to not only restore the doctrine, but to write it into law, is aimed at muzzling conservative talk radio. Those critics feel talk radio offers a balance to the liberal bias in the mainstream media and especially print media, where the doctrine does not apply.

A spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters tells Cybercast News Service that the Fairness Doctrine is actually unfair because it inhibits broadcasters' free speech rights.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.