I wrote last week that until we change the Constitution to permanently kick corporate money out of politics, we can forget about Congress protecting us from cell phone company contracts that strip consumers of their right to go to court.
I got a lot of interesting email on that post, because most people who read “Where’s Our Money” and other blogs think there “oughta be a law” of some kind. But no matter what you believe in or where you stand on the ideological spectrum, anybody who is trying to make America a better place for human beings is going to have a hard time overcoming the corrupting effect of corporate money on public officials and the democratic process.
Think I’m wrong? Here’s my challenge:
Name a policy issue that involves our power as voters, consumers, workers, taxpayers or even shareholders and I will show you how corporate money has derailed any serious progress on the matter.
If you don’t want to post it publicly, just ask that your comment remain private, or send me an email.
The same day I mused on our new status as second-class citizens courtesy of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, President Obama’s re-election campaign endorsed a constitutional amendment to reverse that ruling. “The President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending,” the Obama campaign said. This came in the context of a another controversial move: the President had decided to encourage supporters to donate to one of the Super PACs supporting him. “Super PACs” are the shadowy groups that the Supreme Court freed of restraints on political spending in Citizens United. Tens of millions of dollars, most of it from unidentified corporations and wealthy donors, have poured into the Republican primaries. But that’s just a fraction of what Super PACs are expected to spend to unelect Barack Obama in November.
In a stark example of biting the hand that has fed it, Wall Street has made it clear that it is offended even by the timid financial reforms mustered by the Obama Administration over the last few years. Now that the taxpayers have resuscitated the Money Industry, it wants to go all the way back to the insane deregulatory policies that pushed the nation into a depression in 2008.
There was a lot of critical commentary about the announcement, not just by hypocrite Republicans like John Beohner, but also by commentators on the left who feel Obama betrayed his commitment to campaign finance reform.
I for one can’t see how any candidate from either party can afford not to play by the deregulated rules of legalized bribery blessed by the Supreme Court. Like Obama’s campaign manager said, “unilateral disarmament” in the face of a massive attack of big money makes no sense. Our electoral system now assures the survival only of the financially fattest.
But will Obama really fight for the 28th Amendment? It’s one thing to endorse the concept and quite another to press for a change in the Constitution that would strip the corporate establishment of its power to elect candidates and dictate laws. The President has the bully pulpit and phenomenal power, but like the rest of us, he can’t hope to pass any laws if corporations maintain a hammerlock over the legislative branch. No one knows better than he how the powerful insurance lobby turned health care reform into a corporate boondoggle. If President Obama thinks there oughta be a law, any meaningful law, in his second term, he’s going to have confront Citizens United.