Taking their Money and Voting Against Them

The New York Times has an article discussing the new Supreme court decision which takes restrictions off corporations giving money to politicians. The article includes quotes from social scientists saying there is little evidence that all our attempts to restrict corporate giving to politicians come to any good.

I have another idea. How about if politicians were required to wear their corporate giving on their sleeve? What if, like race car drivers, their corporate sponsors were emblazoned on their clothes and cars? What if, when going to Jack Reed’s office, you had to pass through a hall of corporate sponsors before meeting the honorable Senator? Perhaps, at least then, we would know what was what. The United States Government, brought to you by Bank of America.

Maybe we can make this work for us, in our ailing state as a nation. Maybe we could have daily corporate sponsors — for each day of the year, one corporation would fund all the costs of government. That’s what I would call being a good corporate citizen! If only there was a way to ensure that corporations would give as much as they receive when buying politicians. Then this new “free speech” might make more sense.

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13 responses

  1. There is little difference between the “corporate” givers to Mr. Reed, or Mr. Obama, or any other politician, than the “non-corporate” givers in the United Auto Workers, AMA, AFT, Sierra Club, or other special interests. They are all “special” interests attempting to get politicians to pay attention and vote their way. This is a remarkably democratic way of getting attention..everyone can pay for “face time” or Lincoln Bedroom time or getting invited to White House banquets. Mr. Obama managed to get lots and lots of corporate and non-corporate money, not much different from other candidates in both parties. Corruption works nicely if it is evenly distributed.

  2. It’s time for real campaign finance reform, if we want to keep democracy, not corporatocracy.

  3. we need to rebuke the Federal Reserve Bank & Board and change the attitude of the deficit spending that has been in place since 1913 when the first income tax laws were put in place and there wouldn’t be anymore wars unless the government could pay for them as time went on. As long as the Banks have control over our money system it will never get any better.

  4. I’ve read through all 185 pages of the decision and am still trying to mull its various implications. But from what I’ve gleaned so far, it isn’t good. In fact, to use a recent cliche, this is a game-changer.

    Without getting into the details of the decision, at least until I have more time to let it settle in my mind, I would like to respond to a few comments on this thread.

    First, Mr. Wolberg, ignoring his limiting observation about democratic office-holders and progressive “associations” (which after CU is what I think we’ll need to call them), the corruption of money in politics is evenhanded. More than one observer has credited the corporatism of the democratic party as a prime reason for its abandonment of its traditional base and constituency.

    Which, of course, only affirms the basis for Nancy’s comment. Campaign reform is vital to the safeguard of our democracy. Sadly, it’s the most important issue that people don’t care about. It’s been that way for the 30 years I’ve advocated reform.

    As to Mr. Close, I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about. But why not take the opportunity to bash the federal reserve and taxes. But, if his argument is that banks have too much power, I totally agree. This is evidenced by a recent report published last week by Consumer Watchdog detailing financial service industries’ contributions to the Senate Banking Committee from 2005-2009. The report s/b found at
    http://www.consumerwatchdog.org. Note Senator Reed’s contributions.

    Finally, I read Kirkpatrick’s op/ed in the NYT. I would assert to those who say that reform is useless that reforms so far have been porous at best. Few have the brass to advocate and impose real reforms. But the thing that struck me almost as much as the argument in the op/ed was the close. It’s a quote that comes from Jesse Unruh in the 1960s. Google it and you’ll know why it was edited – obviously the full quote was not part of the news that is fit to print by the Times!

  5. Mr. Shoos you do not have to know a lot about the System because in 1913 the government allowed the Banks to form the The Federal Reserve System and start to tax Americans from there incomes. If we didn’t have this system the Government could not borrow money from any source and keep us in debt. We are now all slaves to that system because the Banks own us lock stock and barrel. The Federal Reserve banknote is a worthless piece of paper because there is no gold or silver backing it anymore. No matter who is elected President unless we change our ways and get back on a straight and narrow our money system is a worthless piece of paper and doesn’t mean much in world wide of trading. We are so far in debt that China and some other nations want to come up with a world currency. The Stock Market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930′s would not have happened if we had a full backing of our money system with Gold and Silver. WW II would never had happened because Britain and France took all the gold Bullion away from Germany after WWI for retribution of the War in WW I and right away it took a wheel borrow of money in Germany to buy a loaf of bread. The Depression hit Germany almost right away after the treaty of Versailles in 1918. This is because there was not enough gold and silver to back the German Marks and they did a surcharge on the money and postage stamps during the 1920′s. the rest of Europe was resting on there laurels during this time period so Adolph Hitler came along and blamed the Jews for the money mess that was going on at that time. We did not do anything to prevent this situation from happening as we were borrowing money thru the FED and becoming the biggest deficit spender in the history of the World. UNless we change our ways we will be in the same situation as Germany was in 1921.

  6. Mr. Close,

    I’d love to spend all the time necessary to discuss monetary policy and history. However, meaning no disrespect, I’m uncertain how this relates to the topic of Citizen’s United and campaign finance reform?

  7. The only solution to prevent this is to add a new amendment to the United States Constitution. No corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation shall make donations of money or other things of value in connection, directly or indirectly, with a Federal, State, or local election.

  8. Unfortunately, the the compulsion to “reform” as motivation for seeking good government and rational institutions has a trajectory that ends in the same corruption rich ash can of history as those elements towards which reform energy and dollars were directed. Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush both fed from the same dinner tables of influence peddling and special interest pleading with a frosting on their deserts of “very” special pleading entities. In the Republican case, supposed free market and deregulation pleading that always ends as more regulation and closed markets, are that frosting. In the Democratic Party playbook, the unions that spelled the doom for U.S. auto (what is it, $2800 added to the price of GM, Ford, Chrysler cars for the cost of UAW contracts), or the astoundingly science depleted environmental cachet of ignorance that is Ms Boxer and Mr. Gore, drain more from the dynamic of a quasi-free economy. My thesis is that as long as politicans are bought off by reform special pleading or false free market pleaders, a balance of corruption will be accomplished and overall neutrality will prevail in the equation.

  9. I’m just not resigned to being a consumer instead of a citizen. The American Dream is more than a house and a car. There’s nothing neutral about a government that works for the rich and shuts out everyone else.

  10. The NYT today had an article about one of the architects of the anti-campaign finance reform movement, Attorney Jim Bopp.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/us/politics/25bopp.html?hp

    These folks are focused, motivated and think long term. And pay attention to the case before the D.C. Circuit – a challenge to the prohibition of corporate donations directly to candidates and PACs, and parties. This was an issue not before the Court in CU, but given its line of reasoning, if Bopp’s latest escapade gets before the Court, my money is on the elimination of these prohibitions.

    About 35 years ago, I read a book entitled Beyond the Stable State by MIT professor Donald Schon. One of Dr. Schon’s theses was the rate of information bombarding the individual exponentially increased over shorter periods of time. The concern with so much information dropped on individuals was that they wouldn’t be able to discriminate between useful and useless information. The would create a serious threat to democracy, which relies on an informed citizenry.

    Put another way, the cost of accessing information has increased to the point that it’s become prohibitive for many people. So instead of sifting through reams of information, people accept the information most accessible and easiest to understand. Of course that impacts (adversely in my view) the public’s ability to make informed rational decisions in an increasingly complex world.

    Enter “corporations” with their incredible wealth, acting in concert with each other on issue of common concern, they can now use that money – along with the money in their PACS and money donated by directly by corporate executives – to dominate the message presented to voters/citizens. Add to that the quid pro quo of direct corporate contributions to candidates, PACS and parties, and you’ve got the proverbial perfect storm.

    More than forty years ago, President Kennedy said, “Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain.” That is the test that confronts us today.

  11. The drama of history can be overdone if the history remembered is exaggerated. One cannot compare rhe carelessness of econimics and security acted out by the current administration to the substantive issues of survival that befell historic and not so historic administrations. Unfortunately, the image of Mr. Kennedy has been much tarnished by the unreported failings of his life, and much of what he supposedly wrote was not by his pen (he was pre-computer of course). His economics of course, were remarkably progressive in a conservative sense and the tax cut incentives were the policies of Dr. Walter Heller, Chair of his Council of Economic Advisors. Mr. Obama’s failings are those of ability and experience and lack of leadership with the vacum therefrom filled by the equally tarnished roles of Ms Pelosi and Mr. Reid. The challenges of failure current, are not those of real threat, such as those that Mr. Lincoln struggled through, or those of Mr. Roosevelt following the failures of Mr. Hoover, and not even those of Mr. Truman or Mr. Eisenhower. Once can see the stark contrasts of leadership capability shown by these true leaders confronting real threats not of their making, to those self-imposed threats resulting from inexperience and no leadership capability. The nation will of course survive the the current temporary woes if only because political failure in America carries its own termination date, that of the next election.

  12. Mr Wolberg, have you no shame, sir?

    Seriously.

    You lay the blame at the feet of Reid, Pelosi, and Obama, and conveniently neglect the role played by the Republican Congress and Republican President who ran the country into the ground in the first six years of the decade?

    Shame, sir. Shame.

    And you cast aspersions at the current leadership who are making a good-faith effort to clean up the fetid swamp left them by their predecessors in office?

    Who left behind two needless wars, a soaring deficit, and the worst financial crisis in 3 generations?

    Who is responsible for that, sir? Who?

    And the current leadership faces an opposition party that has no interest in governing. The Republicans have chosen a policy of pure and simple obstruction. They have chosen to take no serious role, to make no serious effort to offer substantive and mature policies. Instead, they have chosen to impede and obstruct any attempt to clean up the mess that they created.

    The GOP minority in the Senate has used the filibuster more times in the past decade than it was used in the 200+ years prior.

    It is unprecedented that a 60 vote supermajority is required for all but the most routine legislation. More, it is a gross perversion of the constitution.

    Simple Obstruction as an overriding strategy was brought to us by the Gingrich Congress. Or, don’t you recall how he shut down the gov’t in a childish attempt to get his own way?

    Or, most egregious of all, do you not recall the sordid impeachment attempt? Yes, Clinton was wrong to lie about his affair, but to call that an impeachable offense is obscene. And yet, the Republicans were perfectly willing to bring the business of the nation to a grinding halt while they pursued a nakedly partisan witch hunt.

    And then, when Clinton tried to take steps to retaliate against al Qaida, these same Republicans shouted that he was using this as a distraction from the impeachment!

    Yes, that is Republican leadership. The same party of Herbert Hoover. Let the country be damned, so long as ideological purity is maintained.

    The Republicans have chosen to put the interests of their party–their “permanent Republican majority”–over the interests of the country. In this quest, they have refused, utterly, completely, and pretty much unanimously to do everything in their power to ensure that our country cannot be governed.

    And you lay the blame at the feet of those who are making a good faith effort to do the business of actually governing this country.

    For shame, sir. For shame.

  13. To read is to be able to read, Mr. Klaus. Unfortunately, I am not a Republicanm, and am from a long line of Democrats with grandparents who campaigned for FDR and Mr. Truman; parents who were for Mr. Stevenson, twice, and gee whiz, I even met Mr. Humphrey. I do no think I mentioned Mr. Clinton, but soince your memoray appears selective, Mr. Clinton, deficient in self-control as he was, was asute in politics and steered to the center very nicely. Of course, he also pardoned the notorious Mr. Tcch, and as I recall a Puerto Rican terrorist who tried to kill Mr. Truman and members of Congress. But that was Mr. Clinton.

    Mr. Hoover was indeed a Republican and much better as a former President than President, but as I recall Mr. Lincoln was a Republican as well, as was the very capable Mr. Eisenhower and the first Roosevelt, Theodore. Nonses and inability knows no party and reflects more capabilities. The current administration is on a par with that of Mr. Carter, and that judgement is not merely a Republican or Democratic judgement; it seems to be widely held. Mr. Obama is much like Mr. Hoover: folks who will make better former than current Presidents.

    Mr. Klaus appears more interested in sloganeering than constructive discussion, a gambit that may ease the inner turmoil, but contributes little to the discussion.

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