Supreme Court Buries American Democracy In McCutcheon v. FEC Ruling

Picture: "SCOTUS building as seen from the west side of 1st St NE.", Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Picture: “SCOTUS building as seen from the west side of 1st St NE.”, Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

On April 2, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on campaign contributions (not the limit on how much individuals can donate to candidates or party committees). This ruling marks another step in the destruction of American democracy, its accelerating drift into a plutonomy.

After the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which erased campaign spending limits for corporations and labor unions, the McCutcheon ruling enables wealthy donors to influence political elections even more.

Here is the ultimate ‘least untruthful’ quote from RNC Chair Reince Priebus on the ruling:

It’s not like people are going to be able to write out million-dollar checks to the Republican Party or to an individual candidate.

According to Politico, a single donor can now donate up to $6 million to a candidate or election committee.

And here is more from Priebus:

Look, I don’t disagree with Citizens United, [. . .] I think it’s a good case. I think that we should all be free and exercise our First Amendment rights. But this is a victory today for people who want to see political parties and candidates on the same playing field or a little bit closer to the same playing field as the First Amendment was intended to allow us to be [emphasis mine].

This is an absolutely misleading statement. Average American voters are not on the same playing field as deep-pocketed corporations or individuals such as, for example, Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers.

Update: Newt Gingrich would prefer, as a next step, the legalization of unlimited campaign donations to candidates, which he claims

would overnight equalize the middle class and the rich.

That is obviously one big lie. Why? Because the middle class does not have the money of the rich.

This is no longer government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is the best democracy money can buy.

Read more:

Die another day – The subtle awfulness of the McCutcheon v. FEC campaign finance decision: The John Roberts two-step.” (Richard L. Hasen, Slate, 2014/04/02)

McCutcheon Decision: Add Some More Zeroes to That Check.” (Bob Biersack, Open Secrets, 2014/02/02)

McCutcheon v. FEC: Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Limits On Campaign Contributions.” (Huffington Post, 2014/04/02)

SCOTUS on money and politics: A reader’s guide.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico, 2014/02/04) – Kenneth Vogel argues that the McCutcheon decision is not “Citizens United 2.0.”

Supreme Court decision on fundraising limits will affect state rules on political donations.” (Joshua Miller, Boston Globe, 2014/04/02)

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting.” (Ari Berman, The Nation, 2014/04/02)

Wall Street Threatens To Cancel GOP Fundraising

Wall Street firms are threatening to cancel GOP fundraising over banking tax proposal

Image: "Wall Street sign on Wall Street" by JSquish, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_3.0) http://bit.ly/1kvyKWi
Image: “Wall Street sign on Wall Street” by JSquish, Wikimedia Commons (CC_BY-SA_3.0) http://bit.ly/1kvyKWi

Wall Street firms are threatening to turn off the money hose that fuels Republican election campaigns, according to a recent article in Politico. One GOP lobbyist told Politico that “commitments for big-dollar fundraising have been “canceled for the foreseeable future.”

What happened? Rep. Dave Camp had proposed a tax bill that would cut into the profits of large private equity firms.

Lobbyists from the big banks, among them Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan, are trying to stop the proposal in its tracks.

And they seem to be quite successful. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) backpedaled and told lobbyists that Camp’s proposal was just a “draft.”

At the same time, Democrats are rubbing their hands over potential campaign funds coming their way. The head of the Consumer Bankers Association put it this way:

[T]here’s no doubt some champagne corks were unleashed in Democratic circles last night. They got an early election gift

Democracy in America, 2014.

Billionaires Koch Brothers Remodel Dark Money Operations

Billionaires Koch Brothers Remodel Dark Money Operations

Billionaires Charles and David Koch, who funded various Tea Party groups throughout the last years, are adjusting their modus operandi.

As the Huffington Post reports, the Kochs have founded a new front group called Association for American Innovation, which is going to give massive amounts of money to other opaque political groups in order to further their agenda of economic deregulation and tax cuts for their class.

Among the groups expected to receive funding are Concerned Women for America and the Libre Initiative, an outfit promoting libertarianism to Hispanics.

The apparent goal of the Kochs’ public relations efforts is to convince middle and working class Americans that their economic interests neatly align with those of the wealthiest members of society. Basically it is the myth of trickle-down economics. Engineering this spin is paramount, from their perspective, to increasing their capital and protecting it from the rest of society.

Read more:

New Koch Brothers Group Revamps Billionaires’ Dark Money Operation.” (Peter H. Stone, Huffington Post, 2013/04/26)

Reddit Users Edit Logos Of Campaign Donors Onto Politicians

Reddit Users Edit Logos Of Campaign Donors Onto Politicians

Social news website Reddit comes up with a creative, satirical take on the legal bribery of campaign finance in America.

Money talks in American politics. So much so, that numerous contemporary observers and respondents to polls have described the current form of campaign financing as legal bribery, especially after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling of 2009 has made the system even more obscure.

Many Americans citizens of various political persuasions today see their political system as corrupt, dominated by a small number of large corporations and wealthy individuals who legally buy politicians of both major parties with campaign donations to protect their interests.

However diverse political opinions may be among the larger population, political representatives as a class tend to respond to those who fill their campaign coffers. To a large extent, this also includes the current President Barack Obama, who, despite his progressive campaign rhetoric, has appointed many former corporate executives and lobbyists who have in their interest anything but regulating the industries they themselves are products of.

DIY Transparency on Reddit

On the social news website Reddit, users have come up with an idea to make the influence of money more transparent to the average person. As the Huffington Post reports, they suggest that politicians wear the logos of their corporate campaign donors, just like Nascar race car drivers’ overalls are plastered all over with sponsors’ logos.

Because this is unlikely to happen, the Reddit community has taken to image editing software to create montages of heads of political representatives and overalls full of the logos of campaign donors (images are linked in the Huffington Post article below).

While this may seem like a satirical Internet meme that will never get any traction in the ‘real world,’ the idea behind it is rather serious. If money has such a corrupting influence on the political system, should it not be made transparent whose bidding elected officals will do?

There are websites such as opensecrets.org that attempt to track campaign donations to elected officials. However, these resources are sometimes difficult to navigate for the average person.

Update (March 28, 2013):

A recent example of corporate influence on American politicians, this time on the Democrats’ side: President Obama has signed a spending bill that includes what critics call protection of the genetically modified organism (GMO) manufacturer Monsanto against future litigation in case that GMOs might be proven to contain health risks.

Read more:

Reddit Provides DIY Way To NASCAR-ize Lawmakers, Make Them ‘Wear’ Logos Of Financial Backers.” (Nick Wing, Huffington Post, 2013/03/21)

OpenSecrets.org – Money in Politics