Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A clear discinction between free speech and bribery

The Senate has approved opening debate on a constitutional amendment to do something about all that corporate money in our campaign-election system. Yay! A first step has been taken. Even GOP Congresscritters don't like the current system. It requires they spend way too much time asking for money. Even Republicans believe corporate influence is too strong. So an attempt to limit such large-scale corporate bribery should be celebrated.


A report from NPR isn't so cheery. They point a couple things behind this particular vote.

* It is a GOP stalling tactic. Congress is in town for only a short amount of time before heading home to campaign. Spend time debating this amendment and the Senate isn't spending time on such issues as equal pay for women and college affordability (not that either of those was any more likely to get past this particular House).

* Both parties will oppose anything that appears to give an advantage to the other party (so they love power more than they hate dialing for dollars and more than they honor the constitution).

* Approving debate in the Senate is far different from passing an amendment, which requires a 2/3 majority.

There are very clear polls saying American citizens support such an amendment by huge margins. But David Keating of the Center for Competitive Politics (I'll guess this is a highly conservative group, though I won't look it up because their vision statement is likely quite vague) says the polls are wrong, badly phrased, or insufficient. His proof: Polls show a strong support for the First Amendment.

I'll respond by declaring Keating's reading of the polls misses a key point. Citizens see a clear distinction between free speech and bribery.

I heard elsewhere that the only way to get a serious push towards campaign finance reform would be a big scandal. Alas, since the source of so much campaign money is now secret a scandal is harder to generate.

Another NPR report considers the question: When the Senate, and Congress as a whole, is so gridlocked does it really matter which party is in the majority? That question is appropriate with lots of analysis predicting the GOP will take the Senate in November. Mara Liasson's report provides some answers.

* Obama says a GOP majority would stop his agenda of improving minimum wage, equal pay, and infrastructure funding. But would that agenda go anywhere with a solid GOP majority in the House?

* Scott Reed of the US Chamber of Congress (and a conservative) says the GOP takeover of the Senate would repudiate Obama's leadership style. Since Obama would be focused on legacy he'll do all he can to work with the GOP which will "get something done that are good for the country." The GOP agenda is good for the country? GOP actions over the last 6 years haven't been working to thwart Obama's leadership and legacy?

* Mitch McConnell will become Majority Leader and he has a long agenda: restrict the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, financial service protections, the Environmental Protection Agency, and surely others. That means the next two years will be nothing but veto fights, with the GOP unable to override vetoes in the Senate.

* The GOP will demand more oversight of Obama. And former Secretary Clinton will face long strings of subpoenas. That translates to Bengazi as the only topic of conversation in the Senate.

* Perhaps the GOP will overreach, giving Dems a chance to "clarify" what the GOP agenda will do for America. Which supposedly means a retake of the Senate in 2016.

Don't bother reading the comments to this article – the GOP crazies took it over.

Mara Liasson left out one big consequence of the GOP ruling the Senate. Say goodbye to any approval of Obama's judicial nominees. And say goodbye to a reasonable Supreme Court if Ginsberg retires or dies (she is 81 years old and has had treatment for cancer). An ineffective or conservative judiciary is a big part of what conservatives are after.

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