Democrats love to talk about cutting the influence of money in politics, but are they actually any more eager to fix it than Republicans?
LAWRENCE LESSIG JUN 18 2014, 10:43 AM ET
The vast majority of Americans—more than 90 percent in recent polls—believe it “important” to “reduce the influence of money in politics.” But is the business model of the reformers actually consistent with winning reform?
This is the fair but hard question raised by the strategy planned by Senate Democrats this summer to force a vote on New Mexico Senator Tom Udall’s proposed constitutional amendment to give Congress the power “to regulate the raising and spending of money” in elections. Forty-three Senate Democrats have cosponsored the resolution. Zero Republicans have. Zero is the same number of Republicans who have joined any of the proposed constitutional amendments now floating about in Congress to, as they are described, “reverse Citizens United.” Constitutional reform to give Congress the power to further regulate campaign cash is the exclusive domain of the Democrats (excepting, of course, the ACLU Democrats; the ACLU opposes such amendments).
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How our tax dollars subsidize exorbitant executive pay...
by Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Scott Klinger, Sam Pizzigati, of Institute for Policy Studies
Nationwide, budget cuts have axed 627,000 public service jobs just since June 2009. Schools, health clinics, fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities—virtually no public service has gone unsqueezed. Tax dollars haven’t seemed this scarce in generations.
Yet tens of billions of these scarce tax dollars are getting diverted. These tax dollars are flowing from average Americans who depend on public services to the kingpins of America’s private sector. They’re subsidizing, directly and indirectly, the mega-million paychecks that go to the top executives at our nation’s biggest banks and corporations.
Exorbitant CEO pay packages have, of course, been outraging Americans for quite some time now. Every new annual CEO pay report seems to bring a rash of predictably angry editorials and calls for reform. But little overall has changed. Wages for average Americans continue to stagnate. Pay for top executives continues to soar.
One key reason why: Our nation’s tax code has become a powerful enabler of bloated CEO pay. Some tax rules on the books today essentially encourage corporations to compensate their executives at unconscionably higher multiples of what their average workers are paid.
Other rules let executives who run major corporations routinely reduce their corporate tax bills. The fewer dollars these corporations pay in taxes, the more robust their eventual earnings and the higher the “performance-based” pay for the CEOs who produce them.
In effect, we’re rewarding corporate executives for gaming the tax system. Our tax code is helping the CEOs of our nation’s most prosperous corporations pick Uncle Sam’s pocket.
In this latest Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess annual report, our 19th consecutive, we take a close look at the most lucrative tax incentives and subsidies behind bloated CEO pay and highlight those executives who have reaped the highest rewards from tax code provisions that actively encourage outrageously disproportionate executive pay. [MORE]
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our...
In 5-4 decision, court strikes down Montana ban on corporate donation law, strengthening Citizens United
By Common Dreams staff
In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court has struck down (pdf) Montana's 100 year old law that banned direct corporate political campaign spending in state and local elections. The court reversed a lower court ruling, but did so without allowing full briefing or argument in the case.
Previously, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the law due to the state’s dramatic history of corruption, but the Supreme Court's ruling today rejected that decision, arguing that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Critics, however, say all available evidence -- especially in the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision -- suggests such arguments are absurd and say today's decision only strengthens the role of corporate money and independent wealth while weakening the ability of lawmakers and citizens who might try to temper the amount of corporate money that is now flooding into state-level campaigns.
In a dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer -- who was joined by Justice Ruth Ginsburg in a desire that the high court hear the case -- wrote that "Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court’s decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubts on the Court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so." [MORE]
Bill Press is a liberal radio show host with a syndicated show heard across the country, so, naturally, Press is also an Obama supporter. But even this Obama supporter thinks that it is time for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to be fired.
"All I do is win!" Last night, President Obama's swag was on 100 as he stepped up to the podium to deliver his speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and he ended up giving media that attended more than they bargained for.
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Excerpt from article by Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party USA
One point that no one seems to be making is that corporations were formed to be people organizing together as a group. Each of these individual people have the right of free speech, and now the entity has the right of free speech. In the arena of politics, this effectively doubles, triples or more the voice of every person who has enough money to buy more "free speech." If the media would provide "free advertising" to each entity or person who requested it, then we might actually have free speech in politics. Right now, it’s more of an auction atmosphere.
Additionally, not every person who organizes within a corporate entity is a citizen of the United States. This allows foreign investors, who likely have profit motives, rather than civic investment motives, "free speech" rights in our electoral process. They may not get to vote in the election itself, but their influence will be felt, none the less.
I call for a return to sanity. Return corporations to their form as a legal entity, not a living one. Corporations (all types) should be able to conduct business as a group of individuals, but not speak as a person. Let the people within the corporation act as advocates for their corporate interests, and the same for all other special interests. Only people with a heartbeat, who are citizens of this country should be allowed to contribute to candidate campaigns, in a limited fashion. This way, the auction of our government to the highest bidder ends.
And SuperPACs? They simply must go. I’m sick of the ads and we could end world hunger with the money.
In the Coffee Party, the hope we see rests in new media. What does all of this out-of-state and sometimes out-of-country money buy? It buys media products: political advertisements, which are designed to work on a captive, passive consumer audience. With the advent of social media, we don't have to be that passive. We can create media products too, and, at a cost that most Americans can afford. That's why we hope you'll join our Be the Media campaign. Our next strategy call is Saturday at 3 pm ET (12 noon pacific) — CLICK HERE to register.
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