Have American taxpayers had enough yet? Are they tired of having to foot the bill for industry-government collusion? Have the double-whammy calamities of the Great Recession and the Gulf disaster finally whipped everyone into a white-hot lather of collective rage, bellowing loudly for campaign finance reform NOW?

Well, not quite everyone.

As Democrats in the House and Senate try to enact the Fair Elections Now Act in time for the bill to affect November’s election, Republicans and big business are doing everything in their power to scuttle it. The bill, and its companion legislation, the Disclosure Act, would simply make it more difficult for corporations and unions to continue unduly influencing America’s electoral process.

Fair Elections Now would give candidates the option of running for office on a blend of limited public funds and a four-to-one match on donations of $100 or less, thus making grassroots support—not moneyed special interests—the new mother’s milk of politics.

The Disclosure Act would remove the secrecy that now enshrouds many large political donations. Under the bill, voters would know if BP Oil or the SEIU happen to bankroll a political cause, organization or candidate.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which, in effect, made a donation of our democracy to wealthy special interests, these bills are the very least—repeat: “least”—Congress should do.

Yet, Republicans are continuing on their well-traveled path of obstructionism by offering only sketchy support for the bills in the House and none in the Senate. Oddly enough, one of the few Republican supporters of the Fair Elections Now Act is the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.

Whether these bills survive or not, Democrats would be well advised to make political hay out of their opponents’ foot-dragging on clean elections. The next time Michael Steele claims that his party is the party of and for the people—not big business—Democrats should be ready to pounce, waving Republican voting records in front of the cameras.

Why No Contingency Plan, BP?

Why didn’t British Petroleum have a contingency plan, like the plan other countries insist upon as a precondition to offshore drilling? Because “We, the People” didn’t force them to. Why didn’t “We the People” force them to? Because our representatives were afraid to bite the hand that feeds their campaign war chests.  In the current swap meet known as the U.S. government, voting for tough, loophole-free, safety regulations on Big Oil would have been considered bad-faith dealing, and extremely ungrateful.

BP, AIG, Exxon, Lehman Brothers, oil spills and financial meltdowns—only the names of the companies and types of disasters change; the reasons for the disasters remain the same: Corporate greed and a government on the take.

The Fair Elections Now and Disclosure legislation may be tiny steps, but they are definitely steps in the right direction.

Why doesn’t the GOP think so?

[Update] Open Secrets tells us that as of September 1, “The Fair Elections Now Act has not made it out of committee. And while the House passed the DISCLOSE Act in June, Republican senators have so far blocked it in Congress’ upper chamber.”

These guys know where their bread is buttered, don’t they?

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Comments
  1. politicalobserver4 says:

    Hello Russ,
    It would appear that the ‘double-whammy’ calamities as you say, should provide some
    impetus toward campaign finance reform in the country. However the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, given the ruling in the ‘Citizens United’ case, may ‘find’ that the reforms in the Fair Elections Now Act do not pass Constitutional muster. For a look at a different sort of campaign reform proposal you might want to take a look at my blog. I have to admit that the reform proposal posted there would meet with ‘scrutiny’ from the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, were it to become law.

    Like

  2. Russ Buchanan says:

    Hi Politicalobserver –

    Thanks for the comment and the heads-up on your well reasoned approach to campaign finance reform–well conceived and workable. My concern with such an approach, as with any approach to meaningful reform, is, once again, the Roberts Court. Your approach might skate on 1st Amendment grounds, but what happens when NAB lawyers accuse the government of unfair limitations on their business? It seems all Roberts and crew need is an excuse–no matter how flimsy–to keep Big Business at the helm of our electoral process.

    Even so, yours would be worth a try. All we have to lose is what little confidence in our democracy we have left.

    RB

    Like

  3. Rosemary says:

    Russ,

    What happened to “Political observer?” I tried to acces his website to read what his ideas were, but it was defunct.

    Do you know where he went? Can you describe what he was advocating for reform?

    In response to your comment- I watched a series on the history of the Supreme Court. Seeing it all together, I was able to reach some conclusions that in my naivete, I had never realized before.

    To understand one of their major functions/motivations, you have to consider that the original Founders were mostly white, European, LAND OWNERS. I dare say the vast majority of wealth, was similar to statistics now, ( on a guess) was held by a tiny percentage of men, who wanted to protect what they had. Even the Magna Carta that is the historical touchstone for our Bill of Rights, was not meant for anyone but the barons, to protect their rights and property from the abusive despot, King John. Only landowners were protected.

    Initially, only landowners could vote in this country. ( My own mother was born before women had the right to vote!)

    Many of the Founders, had an elitist view of non-landed commoners when it came to rights and the ability to rule or elect leaders. Business owners/entrepreneurs obviously also had a vested interest in protecting what they owned as well as protecting their businesses from interference and high taxes and tariffs from the Parliament in Great Britain.

    Throughout the history of the Supreme Court, many of their important decisions favored the business and landed parts of society, over the common working man, in many very important decisions. It especially was encoded in law with the decision in “Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad” when the court applied the 14th Amendment to recognize corporations a “persons” giving them rights and priveleges of real persons under the law.

    The 14th Amendment was intended to protect black citizens civil rights during Reconstruction and overrule the Dredd Scott decision and prevent the enforcement of the southern “Black Codes.” But somehow the Court managed to apply these protections to business entities, that have power and protections, with none of the responsibities or motivations of a loyal citizen. Corporations do not have a “vote” as person’s do. Corporations do not have to be “citizens” who swear loyalty to the United States. The only responsibility and motivation of a Corporation is to make money for it’s shareholders.

    IN fact many of the priorites of a corporation are in particular opposition to a “loyal citizen fo the United States.” Banks even supported Hitler’s military buildup in Germany, because they had no loyalty to the US… just to their shareholders.

    Corporations caused untold environmental and health disasters to Americans, avoiding responsibilities for their actions as they are required to do in court, to protect their shareholders.

    Think anyone will be held accountable for the economic meltdown due to the gamblers on Wall street? think again…

    So is it any surprise to know that they are going to spend whatever it takes to increase their profits, by flooding the elections with their targeted undisclosed largesse to protect their corporate interests? They have NO loyalty to America or it’s citizens. The US Supreme Court has now given them a rubber stamp to pursue their interests without restraint undoing all previous precedents, despite their supposed respect for “stare decisis.”

    The Roberts Court is return to the the Court to their original elitest “motivation” or philosophy as I see it. There is no other way to understand their decisions, that go against common citizens rights expressed in the “Bill of Rights” and their expressed anathema to any expansion of those rights as Madison intended by including the Ninth Amendment:

    “ The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    The original definition of a corporation in British common law on which which our court so heavily relys when it suits their purposes : “a collection of many individuals united into one body, under a special denomination, having perpetual succession under an artificial form, and vested, by policy of the law, with the capacity of acting, in several respects, as an individual, particularly of taking and granting property, of contracting obligations, and of suing and being sued, of enjoying privileges and immunities in common, and of exercising a variety of political rights, more or less extensive, according to the design of its institution, or the powers conferred upon it, either at the time of its creation, or at any subsequent period of its existence.”( A Treatise on the Law of Corporations, Stewart Kyd (1793-1794))

    The Citizens United case did not start out as a case that was meant to overturn the Campaign Finance laws.it was originally a First Amendment case. The Supreme Court expanded it when they saw the opportunity to use this case in order to do just that!

    In fact the Bill of Rights was rarely invoked in a court of law previous to the last century, almost as if it didn’t exist! Originally it didn’t apply to the states. It wasn’t until 1925( “Incorporation Doctrine”) that the Supreme Court declared that the US Bill of Rights could be enforced against the states however selectively! Not all of the Rights expressed were appled to states until the last 50 or so years. That shows how low the rights of common citizens were in the priorities of the Court. The business of the Court, was and IS BUSINESS. ( and to protect the government against its citizens complaints and suits)

    The way I see it, this Court is returning to its roots protecting the “landed” elite classes, which include corporations that are basically considered equal to “persons” now as far as the law is concerned. NO matter that the United case virtually guts the democratic election process. T Jefferson is rolling in his grave! So is James Madison and Thomas Paine. They would be undone by the Court’s use of the law to create a corporate oligarchy no matter how protective they were of their property.

    If we don’t like this ruling and the reports of all the undisclosed corporate funds that are flooding the elections, we have to press Congress change the laws. The latest attempt by Democrats in Congress was shut down by Republicans. ( Another anti-constitutional move by Republicans for the list.)

    I guess if Americans remain complacent about corporate power, and vote the Repugs in the majority, they will get what they deserve. I am sorry that people like us will not get what we deserve. It is going to take a younger generation to break through the fog and fight to regain power for the people in this country. Good luck to them.
    “Beam me up Scotty…”

    Like

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