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The Supreme Court And Campaign Finance Limits, Again

The High Court and blowing the lid off campaign contributions.

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as the court heard arguments on campaign finance. The Supreme Court is tackling a challenge to limits on contributions by the biggest individual donors to political campaigns. (AP)

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as the court heard arguments on campaign finance. The Supreme Court is tackling a challenge to limits on contributions by the biggest individual donors to political campaigns. (AP)

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in the Citizens United case blew the lid off corporate and union spending on American politics.  That spending surged, and has changed our nation’s political life.  Tilted it further toward big money.  Yesterday, the high court was looking at big money and politics again.  This time, the court could blow a lid off individual political contributions.  Just 1200 wealthy Americans currently max out, hitting those limits.  The complaint is, that’s an offense to their free speech.  This Supreme Court may agree.  Up next On Point:  money politics and the high court, again.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Barnes, Supreme Court correspondent for The Washington Post. (@scotusreporter)

Richard Briffault, professor of constitutional law at Columbia University and expert on campaign finance law. (@ColumbiaLaw)

Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a non-profit that advocates for transparency in government and campaign finance reform. (@FredWertheimer)

Shaun McCutcheon, plaintiff in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development Company in McCalla, AL.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Supreme Court Skeptical of Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions — “The chief justice seemed to be looking for a way for the court to lift the aggregate ban on candidate contributions but keep a separate restriction on the amount given to political parties and committees.Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said that lifting the limits in the way proposed by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee would allow an individual to contribute more than $3.5 million, rather than the current limit of $123,000.”

NPR: Supreme Court Hears Another Challenge To Campaign Finance Law — “McCutcheon could spend any amount he wants to by giving to independent groups that have proliferated since Citizens United. These groups raise millions of dollars to spend on candidate elections, but they do so independently and are not supposed to coordinate with the candidate campaigns. McCutcheon, however, doesn’t want to give to independent groups; he wants to give directly to candidates and the Republican Party.”

SCOTUSBlog: How is Political Influence Bought? – “If the Supreme Court really does not understand how money moves around in American politics, how can it fashion constitutional rules to prevent abuses?  That seemed to be the most penetrating question that hung over the one-hour hearing Tuesday on the latest dispute over campaign finance.  The answer seemed to be that the Court is not really sure about the former, but it still is going to try to do the latter.”

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    NO.

    • AC

      ? No limits?

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        When a girl says no, she means no. Lady Liberty says no to ever more money in politics. If 3.5 million, why not 3.5 billion, or 35 billion… ?

        PS How is “our” problem coming ? I will be weighing in on Friday, I hope.

        • AC

          i’ve been working about 15-16 hours a day on a submittal, that’s why i haven’t been in much…i’m hoping i forget about your torture device of a challenge, i really need to take a weekend to hike or get some fresh air before winter comes…

    • StilllHere

      ? No free speech?

      • nj_v2

        ¡Money isn’t speech!

        • thequietkid10

          Your saying we should limit how much you can support an elected official.

          So should we limit how much time one can volunteer for an elected official? After all it’s “not fair” that one person has children and therefore can’t spend as much time supporting a candidate as someone else?

          • jefe68

            False equivalency.

            This is about buying elections and by the way it works both ways.

            This suite is being brought by a wealthy right wing Republican, Shaun McCutcheon for one reason only, he wants to be able to control election results. That’s not good for a democracy.

            You can hide behind the money is free speech argument but it’s clear to see that Citizens United was not good for our nation and this will make it even worse.
            But that’s how the GOP rolls, they want to buy elections.

            I’ll wait for the George Soros meme…

          • TFRX

            Soros?

            Piker.

            I understand The New Sons of ACORN are “gettin the band back together”. Be afraid…be very afraid.

          • MrNutso

            An individual should be able to volunteer as many hours as they want. They should be able buy as much media time or print space as they want to say they support so and so for office. They should not be able to write a check for as much money directly to a candidate. Doing so is clearly to buy something from that candidate.

          • John Cedar

            Giving money to a candidate is a gift and would be subject to gift tax and would have all the elements of a bribe.
            The issue being debated is giving money to a political campaign.
            They have laws against using campaign donations for just anything you want. For instance you cannot use the money to give money to the mother of your love child you sired while your wife was dieing of cancer.

        • MrNutso

          Money is property.

  • sickofthechit

    All this anonymous money in politics is destroying our democracy. My straight-forward take on it is that either the contributor of the money is ashamed of supporting the candidate or they have a nefarious purpose for their support.

    On the candidate side , they are either ashamed of the contributor or they have a nefarious purpose for accepting the money.

    Now some will offer a defense of anonymity using a straw man argument that the contributor wishes to remain anonymous because they fear repercussions. I say freedom of speech means you speak freely and openly. If you are afraid to speak out and identify yourself, maybe what you are saying does not merit saying or needs to be said in another way. All of us here are only to familiar with the posters who remain anonymous here seem to be the ones with the most extreme viewpoints. The ones who use the most vitriolic rhetoric. if you aren’t willing to stand behind what you are saying, maybe you need to think a little more before speaking.

    As for my title (sickofthechit) on this comments section I honestly don’t remember signing up under that moniker so I diligently try to remember to post my full name after all comments. Charles A, Bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    And now for a message not “On Point”

    It appears to me that to many Republicans in Congress would flunk a middle school civics test from the 1950′s or 1960′s. Especially John Boehner and George Will. Boehner claimed the other day that the House of Representatives represents 1/3 of our government. Sorry John, either your math or your Civics skills or both are sorely lacking. The Legislature (House and Senate both) are essentially 1/6 each of our government. Together they comprise 1/3 of our government. Only 100% off! It’s time to End the Tea Party Tantrum and get back to work. If you want to defund or derail the Affordable Health Care Act I will see you at the polls. That is where it will have to be done since it is the law of land, having been duly passed, signed and the extra step of being affirmed by the Supreme Court.

    This is what I liken the Republicans behavior to. One day, out of the blue a child demands of their parents that they be given $1,000,000. There was never a promise of the money. The child just simply decided they wanted it. The parent explained that there had been no agreement. That they did not have
    that kind of money. The child continues to demand the money and claims the parent is unreasonable because they will not negotiate. If the parent gives in to the $1,000,000 demand or any part of it there will be no end to this behavior. This is why I see this whole budget battle as “The Tea Party Tantrum”.

    Please call your Representative and John Boehner’s office and tell them to Stop “The Tea Party Tantrum” in its tracks.
    The President is in the right here, the sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can begin working towards a better tomorrow.
    Charles A. Bowsher

    • nj_v2

      Good post, but i didn’t know George Will had been elected.

      • sickofthechit

        He hasn’t been, but he is moving to FAUX News from NPR and as expressed in an NPR story this morning he has the same attitude as Boehner that they control one third of the government and they are well within their rights using this blackmail technique to defeat a law they don’t agree with.

        • Don_B1

          My understanding is that George Will came from the historian academic community to the Washington Post as a conservative commentator and is a regular on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and while I don’t think he contributes that much to either organization, why he would move to FNC, I don’t understand.

          The only thing he writes about worth reading is baseball.

          Are you confusing him with someone else?

      • harverdphd

        but then, you don’t know much

    • John Cedar

      …”to” many Republicans in Congress would flunk…

      i am sure you had the same criticism of Schumer when he actually used the phrase “three branches” which has definite historical meaning rather than the phrase 1/3 which is an arguable description.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib52WMd8Ix8

    • harverdphd

      blah blah fart fart

  • Shag_Wevera

    The underlying problem is the justices pretending to be non-partisan. It is a laughavle notion. They might as well have “R” or “D” behind their name, because we all know who is who. You get the occasional Souter type, who could change their letter or get an “I”.

  • John Cedar

    The libruls want to limit money contributions because in the end money is used to purchase media and their candidates get all the free media whey could ask for.

    Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, SNL, The View, Oprah, to name a few…all of them are giant image advertisements for the librul candidate and mudslingers at the Republican and Conservative candidates. Those shows alone are worth a gazillion dollars in campaign contributions.

    You can bet your a$$ that it would cost me more than $123k to hire The Boss or Bon Jovi to play for me. So why can they donate a concert worth more than I can write a check for? Why can Opie the Fonz and Andy endorse Obama? How many millions would it cost me to get them to evoke those characters and endorse my product?

    • Renee Engine-Bangger

      Hey, you can always get Ted Nugent or Chuck Morris, right?

      Or just keep whining about the “liberal” media.

      • TFRX

        Y’know, there’s a bunch of posters (lol-cat style, not printed) going around the internet by right-wingers. I get forwarded some.

        The amazing thing is they’re amusing photos of public figures from TV shows and movies with conservative “satire” written on them. But none of those celebs are right-wingers.

        It’s the sound of a barrel’s bottom being scraped, says I.

      • John Cedar

        No whining form me. I will be your .01% no matter what laws you get passed or whom you get elected.
        I was just making a point about the money and what it can’t really buy. After all, in the end, it doesn’t matter how many 60 second spots of Mitt Romney you see because the takers will continue to vote for the freestuff candidate and be influenced by the SNL portrayal of Palin.

    • jefe68

      Ah yes, when all else fails use a false equivalencies.

    • JGC

      And don’t forget, you have G. Gordon Liddy on your team…How can one attach a dollar value to that priceless endorsement of the conservative side?

    • John_in_Amherst

      exactly what do you think Ruppert Murdoch’s contributions (via his tabloid TV and newspapers) are worth? FOX is non-stop GOP hyperbole and misinformation. Or do still buy the “fair and balanced” BS? get your head out of your FOXhole!

      • jefe68

        Waste of time with this chap.

        • John_in_Amherst

          true. But it is hard to ignore his obstreperous bullying.

          • jefe68

            I agree, he’s real piece of work.
            I bet he’s a hoot at parties.

    • hennorama

      John Cedar — anyone, including you, can donate their time and services to a political candidate, party or cause, without limit, as long as they are NOT compensated by anyone else.

      Per the Federal Election Commission website:

      “Does volunteering my personal services to a campaign count as a contribution to the campaign?

      “An individual may volunteer his or her personal services to a campaign without making a contribution as long as the individual is not compensated by anyone else. 11 CFR 100.74. For example, if an individual helps organize a voter drive or offers his or her particular skills to a campaign, neither of those activities will result in a contribution, as long as the individual is not compensated. If the individual is compensated for his or her services, the activity is no longer considered volunteer activity and the payments, if made by someone other than the campaign itself, result in an in-kind contribution from that person, which must be reported by the campaign. 11 CFR 100.54.”

      See:
      http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/volact.shtml

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Why does anyone worth less tha a billion dollars think that the God forsaken Republican Party represents the interests of the little guy?

    They blocked ethics reform for decades.
    They gave a 50% tax cut to the wealthy with capital gains rate cut from 30% to 15% under Dubya.
    They let oil companies pump millions of gallons of toxic waste into the ground without regulations that would apply to any other industry.
    They want gut regulations that protect people from irresponsible, unethical and amoral acts of greedy corporate officers.
    They want to gut government agencies that were created to ensure that the food sold on the market will not poison our babies, the automotive and airline parts we depend on will not be counterfeit or fail and cause horrific accidents and the pharmaceuticals we are prescribed wont kill us.
    The level of corruption that they unleashed with Citizens United has our founding rolling in their graves.
    Now they risk economic disaster over health care for the working poor.
    With this lawsuit they work to ensure that those with the money can drown anyone out and that no one can stop them from writing any law in their favor no matter how outrageously unfair.
    Yes their is corruption and stupidity in both parties but the GOP and its T Party idiots have gone stark raving mad waging war on the US government and the services it provides to its citizens be they children living in poverty, the working poor or those struggling to avoid economic disaster.
    These people use fear, anger and God to justify what they do. How they justify their moral hypocrisy I do not know, but of one thing I am confident: Jesus would not be a Republican.

    • John Cedar

      I switched to the Republican party when the left wing extremist faction took over the democrats and the rest of the democrats fell in behind them in lockstep without missing a beat. Remember when the racist misogynist super delegates stuck it to Hillary every time things started looking up for her in the primary? That was another turning point. That is when i started clinging to my religion and my guns, even though I only have one gun and never touch it and haven’t been to church in years.

      Capital gains rates were only recently raised. The democrats had control of the White house, the upper house, the lower house and the chit house for two years. Therefore they owned the 15% capital gains rate and the rest of the tax rates too. Whats more, if they wanted to, they could have passed the tax rates like they passed healthcare and had it not take effect until after the election, but passed it because they knew they were going to get creamed in the election and lose the lower house.

      The libtards can’t have it both ways. You can’t argue in one breath that the tax rates were needed because of the FANNIE Frank Financial sla/sh Rambo caused melt down and then in the next breath argue they were not needed for the Clinton dotcom Enron, Global Crossings, Sprint, bubble meltdown.

      • jefe68

        I sometimes wonder if you are a joke.
        You sound like a parody of a right wing regressive.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        2003-JGTRRA passed with only 7 dem yea’s in the house and 2 in the senate. Now of you want to get into a discussion of the history it taxes and votes and horse trading and hostage taking: there’s not enough space here.

        Funny you should bring up mysogenists. They’re everywhere, but only the GOP would parade an utterly incompetent beauty queen around as a vice presidential candidate to counterbalance the race factor. Geez… Talk about incompetence an irresponsibility!!! And the there’s the vaginal probe laws pushed at the state level by the GOP. The GOP was legislating state rape, and if you don’t understand that that is exactly what those laws represent, consult qualified medical experts, not some unethical nozzle who’ll say anything for a fee or to sell an argument… Yeah, you certainly switched to the moral high ground.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Did i defend Fannie and Freddy? Nope. We’re they the sole cause of the meltdown? Maybe in the simplistic T party bubble. Did Clinton author the graham leach bliley act? Nope? Did Clinton use his Svengali mind control techniques on Dubya to not exercise governance over Wall Street in his 7 year rule prior to the econmic meltdown even though many folks were warning that the fit would eventually hit the Shan between derivatives and credit default swaps with housing costs going up many times faster than wages… Nope. Wait, did wages really go up under Dubya?

        • Don_B1

          Actually, the GSEs (Fanny and Freddie) were quite late to the party and, while doing some ugly things, mostly in accounting practices, not so much sub-prime lending, only lowered standards when they were losing market share to the shadow banks which were reselling bad loans to the big investment banks. CountryWide actually threatened Fanny that it would stop selling any sub-primes to Fanny unless it took even more than it wanted.

          But the Republicans have an agenda and there is just no getting them off it.

      • TFRX

        Something odd about someone who’s so recently a Dem holding up that fallacy about “two years”.

        Let’s go to the Senate Office Building where Loser Tim Pawlenty’s clawmarks will never go away.

    • John_in_Amherst

      straying off topic, but since Jesus’ politics are coming into this, perhaps this is germane:
      Matthew 19:24
      Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
      needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

      and this

      Matthew 25:31-46

      English Standard Version (ESV)

      The Final Judgment

      31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then
      they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or
      thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not
      minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

      I do not profess to be a Christian, but see much wisdom in Christ’s teachings. Too bad Scalia, who wears his Catholicism on his sleeve, doesn’t hew a bit closer to what he professes to believe.

  • creaker

    Eventually we’ll walk to polling centers and vote – $10k per vote. Some folks will buy hundreds of votes. Corporations will buy thousands. But the rest of won’t have the money to buy any.

    • John Cedar

      10k won’t buy you many votes. You need to spend a lot more on votes, of other peoples money…on Obama phones, no copay birth control with complementary abortions, perpetual unemployment benefits, SNAP cards and of course end the quest for work mandate to qualify for welfare.

      • keltcrusader

        You really do live in the alternate reality bubble, don’t you?

        • jefe68

          His is a world fueled by mendacity.

      • TFRX

        Complementary?

        You underestimate us. We’re going for mandatory.

        (Here’s the part where I have to ruin the joke by explaining that I’m not saying the above seriously, for our thick-headed rightwing readers.)

        • keltcrusader

          How dare y…….. oh, nevermind

  • MrNutso

    Pennsylvania has no contribution limits. I personally knew someone who had direct phone access to the Governor’s desk thanks to their six figure contributions. That access provided benefits with state agencies when needed.

    • OnPointComments

      That sounds like the $500,000 donation to Obama’s PAC that gets the donor quarterly meetings with President Obama.

      • TFRX

        “Direct phone access” is the same to you as a quarterly meeting?

        Can I be your investment advisor? I promise to meet with you all the time once a quarter.

        (And please let’s not pretend big PACs started with Obama.)

  • John_in_Amherst

    Despite what the conservatives of the SCOTUS say, corporations are not people, and money is not free speech. The Roberts Court is insuring that “American democracy” just a spending contest between billionaires.

    from the dictionary:
    person:
    1. a human being, whether man, woman, or child
    2. a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.
    3. Sociology . an individual human being, especially with reference to his or her social relationships and behavioral patterns as conditioned by the culture.
    4. Philosophy . a self-conscious or rational being. 5. the actual self or individual personality of a human being

    freedom of speech: noun: the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

    cor·po·ra·tion noun: 1. an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.
    2. the group of principal officials of a borough or other municipal division in England.
    3.any group of persons united or regarded as united in one body.

    The attempt by the conservatives on the court to redefine words to suit the agenda of the Rich Right will be remembered in history as a low ebb of American jurisprudence

    • John Cedar

      So is freedom of the press supposed to apply to just a single person operating a press or can it apply to a corporation operating a press? And if it applies to the latter can any corporation own a press?

      • jefe68

        False equivalency, yet again.

      • John_in_Amherst

        Is it “free speech” for an individual like David Koch, Sheldon Adelson or Ruppert Murdoch to express an opinion through a media megaphone that so amplifies the message and distorts the truth that other individual opinions are never able to enter the public domain? True, it is not easy to balance concerns. It is the job of the legislature to develop laws that reflect fairness and balance the conflicting views and opinions of the electorate. By their “creative” redefinitions, the conservatives on the court have abandon any attempt at reasonable fairness on this issue because that is what favors their interests and preferences.

    • thequietkid10

      Your right corporations are not people, they are a collection of people seeking a common end, just like unions, news organizations, social fraternities, schools, families, Churches, etc. etc.

      • ml77

        Corporations, and to a lesser extend organized labor and others, often lobby to benefit the few at the top. They are not lobbying to benefit the totality of their workforce or clients. It is not right to say they are serving as the voice of all those concerned.

      • sickofthechit

        Each one of those people has a voice in the election. Who gets to pull the lever for the corporation? Its shareholders, its employees, its customers. They are all voting on behalf of the corporation when they show up at the ballot box. charles a. bowsher

    • harverdphd

      Does the dictionary vote?

  • Jeff

    Corporations are made up of people, they should have have the same free speech rights as a person does. I find it odd how people have zero problem with corporations promoting their product but as soon as a corporation donates to a campaign or a political group everyone freaks out…it’s the same thing, it’s speech either way so get over it.

    • TFRX

      When Texas executes a corporation…

      (Seriously, I don’t even have to finish this one.)

      • MrNutso

        Remember Enron?

      • Jeff

        They do that all the time, it’s called bankruptcy.

        • TFRX

          And the shysters and hacks go back and do it again.

          There’s no “lifetime ban” for the Enronistas.

        • TFRX

          Wow. So if a person kills me, the state may execute them. If a corporation kills me, I’m sht out of luck.

          Can I hire a corporation to kill your wife?
          See the difference?

          • thequietkid10

            When’s the last time all the shareholders of McDonald’s got together and beat someone to death?

          • TFRX

            Tobacco companies have shareholders. Those folks didn’t decide to keep findings under wraps. The boards of directors and/or executives did.

            Jes sayin.

            You really don’t want to play the “corporations don’t cause deaths” game.

          • StilllHere

            Yeah, it’s not like they’re unions whose history is full of violence and murder.

          • Ray in VT

            Are you suggesting that corporations do not have a long history of having people rubbed out?

    • MrNutso

      Not really. Using your point a corporation could be free to advertise in favor or against a specific candidate. Though I would prefer that not be allowed, that is certainly better than corporation writing unlimited checks to candidates.

      • Jeff

        So here’s the thing, did you know that unions had the same rights that were finally given to corporations after Citizen’s United? Should unions have more rights/privileges under the law than corporations? All Citizen’s United did was put unions and corporations on a level playing field.

        • Cutler Hamilton

          Corporations are run by high-level executives who definitely have more in mind than just donating money to political candidates. When you allow a corporation to donate exhorbitant amounts of money to candidates, it really makes an individual voting for a certain candidate pointless because one person from a corporation has been given more power to control the political playing field. This country is about providing equal opportunities for all citizens not pandering to those with more money.

          • Jeff

            Hey, if you really don’t like what a corporation is doing then become a shareholder in that company and change the company from the inside. BTW, this money can only provide advertising…advertising doesn’t decide votes typically…there are many studies out there that prove this. Most of the time money follows candidates that are already polled to win months (and even years) before an election happens.

    • JGC

      Who speaks for the corporation? Is it the owners, the shareholders, and/or the people that are employed within that corporation? In the case of a union, the union members have donated and paid dues to their “corporation” and elect union representatives to make their case. But it is not as encompassing within a true corporation who really gets their say through the money donated to a campaign. It is certainly not a democraticly operated entity. The owners and the shareholders do not ask consultation or consent with their employees to see how to vote the interests of the corporation. Is what is good for a Target or Caterpillar always good for its employees?

      • Jeff

        You’re arguing against basic property rights, the shareholders and executives literally OWN the company because they took risks and paid money for that privilege. An employee is paid and does not pay into the company; comparing a union member and an employee is 100% the opposite of reality.

        • jefe68

          You just explained why a corporation is not a person.

          Because not all who work for them are equal.

          Which flies in the face of the the idea of free speech for all as a right.

        • StilllHere

          As a shareholder I’ve empowered the corporation to act on my behalf, that goes for campaign contriubtions as well.

    • jefe68

      It’s speech, but it I don’t have to buy a product.
      I would have to live with the outcomes of an election bought by a large corporation that wants to do away with air quality.

  • alsordi

    There will be no real democracy in the US, until the US rids itself of the corporate status, lobbyists, unlimited campaign funds, and the big fiesta panata for the chosen few, the Federal (not federal) Reserve.

  • atakemoto

    Free speech? I think not. Expensive speech is more like it. Guess that counts me out.

    • Jeff

      Not really, if you have a powerful idea then start a group and ask for funding…just like every PAC or political group does today.

      • atakemoto

        There’s that money factor again. Ask for funding to purchase a louder voice? From whom?

    • Mandala8

      LOL! What a great reframe!

  • OnPointComments

    If big money in American politics is so corrupting, why haven’t there been more arrests and convictions?

    • JGC

      There will only be more arrests and convictions when Correction Corporation of America decides to invest in creating private/public partnerships to lock up white collar criminals in new top-of-the-line CCA country club prisons. They will create the demand, and all we have to do is supply their “guests”.

      • TFRX

        Privatized prisons?

        Let’s go there. Plenty of “lawnorder” types really live in a fantasy about arrests and jailing in this country.

        • JGC

          From Bloomberg Businessweek, “Congress’s Illegal-Immigration Detention Quota Costs $2-Billion a Year” by Selway and Newkirk, 26 Sept 2013:

          “Senator Robert Byrd inserted into Homeland Security’s 2009 spending bill a requirement that ICE keep a mimimum of 33,400 illegal immigrants locked up at all times.”

          The “Bed Mandate” as it is known on the Hill, seems to have been one of the final parting gifts made to the American people by the late Honorable Senator Byrd (D-WV). There is no other area of the justice system that mandates a mimimum number of jailed detainees. Corrections Corporation of America holds many of the contracts with the U.S. government for providing this service. Maybe if there was a White Collar Criminal Bed Mandate, we could start finally stowing away some of the banksters from the 2008 financial crisis.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Money is NOT speech.

    Speech is a Constitutional Right. Money is not a right.

    IF money is speech, then the rich are “more equal”, which is obviously wrong.

    Speech is voting, and it is actual speech. All people have this right equally. One’s right to speak does NOT depend on how much money one has.

    Money is NOT speech.

    • Jeff

      Money is a way to get your speech out…is advertising speech? Does advertising cost money? If yes then money is speech. People forget about the power of ideas…instead of complaining about the other guy having more money how about coming up with better ideas that can sway more people.

      • Joseph Rice

        Just how much did you pay to comment here? Isn’t this speech? You can spend as much as you want to advertise, but you can also stand on the street corner and speak. This money is not being spent for “speech” – it is spent for influence.

        • StilllHere

          Influence doesn’t vote.
          Money is speech.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        “Money is a way to get your speech out”

        Yep, money is different than speech. Money allows you to speak to more people, but that doesn’t make it speech.

        A car allows you to travel and talk to more people – but a car is not speech. The Internet allows you to spread your speech all over – but the Internet itself is not speech.

        Geddit?

  • toc1234

    In 1969 Wertheimer married Linda Wertheimer,[13] now Senior National Correspondent for National Public Radio, and former NPR national political correspondent and co-host of the NPR news magazine program All Things Considered.[14]

    just another liberal activist married to a NPR personality …

  • OnPointComments

    Who here has had their vote changed by the free speech enabled by the Citizens United case?

    • StilllHere

      Nobody!

    • StilllHere

      Still nobody!

    • StilllHere

      3 hours and nobody!

      • OnPointComments

        It’s telling that so many deride Citizens United, yet no one can provide any evidence whatsoever that the Citizens United decision has changed a single vote, much less their own votes. Odd.

  • Mark Giese

    Congress members now spend 20-30hrs a week doing fundraising. What if they only had to contact a few dozen big spenders and get back to legislative work????

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      What if we had publicly financed elections with only small private donations?

      • StilllHere

        Why limit free speech?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          How is paying money “free” speech?

        • John_in_Amherst

          the freedom to spend abrogates the freedom of those unable to spend to speak. The rich want to speak? Let them step into the public eye and speak, instead of paying network flunkies to do it for them.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Who’s limiting speech?

          Money is different than speech. Money allows you to speak to more people, if that’s what you want, but that doesn’t make it speech.

          A car allows you to travel and talk to more people – but a car is not speech. The Internet allows you to spread your speech all over – but the Internet itself is not speech.

          Geddit?

      • Jeff

        I would rather not have tax dollars be taken from me and given to candidates I disagree with…talk about violating freedoms!

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          This is how a democracy works – you vote for the candidate you want.

          The public owns the airwaves, so why do we have to pay to use them for a core purpose of our society?

        • sickofthechit

          I would not have wanted one dime of my money going to the Iraq war, I wouldn’t want subsidies for big oil and energy, or big farms, etc.,etc.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          I don’t like my tax dollars going to torture people. Nor do I like it going toward buying the F35 boondoggle. I certainly don’t like it going to bail out usury bankers, or to clean up BP’s oil spew.

          I think you and I are both served well if we have a vigorous and healthy democracy – one that properly responds to the will of the citizens. If our democracy worked correctly, we would be saving a LOT of money by keeping self-perpetuating exclusionary forces out of it.

    • Joseph Rice

      Far more efficient – since those big spenders will now tell them how to vote, saving time by not having to debate any issues – just vote as directed and submit your expense report.

  • Yar

    Not all candidates are created equal, and treating them the same is not equal. Incumbents are at great advantage and should have strict limits on their participation in campaigns and in spending. We can and should limit the amount of money sitting legislators take and spend. Just because and incumbent is also a candidate does not free them from the responsibility to follow the law. To improve on the law we must recruit and elect candidates who will agree to not take money while in office.

  • toc1234

    Tom quoting Demos studies…. zzzz….

    • StilllHere

      It’s his scripture.

  • Mandala8

    The wealthy in this country already have way more free speech than I have because of their profound wealth. That, in effect, dilutes = limits the effects of my voice. Does “free speech” necessarily = the right to spend obscene amounts of money on campaigns?

    • StilllHere

      There is no such thing as too much free speech.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        But there is such a thing as too much money influencing a democratic election.

        • StilllHere

          No there isn’t. Money doesn’t vote.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Money buys influence.

            Money is not speech.

          • StilllHere

            Influence doesn’t vote.
            Money is speech.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            I give you money. I cannot speech you money.

            Giving money is an act; not speech.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You aren’t the least bit self-delusional, are you?

            Influence writes crappy ALEC bills. It lines the coffers of legislators who somehow forget who elected them, and instead they push the agenda of those who give them the most money.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            “Money doesn’t vote.”

            That’s right – money is not speech. Money does however, powerfully distort the way our democracy works.

  • toc1234

    And if the Fred/Linda Wertheimer connection isn’t troubling enough for those looking for unbiased/straight reporting from NPR here’s another personality…

    Michele Norris lives in the District of Columbia with husband, Broderick Johnson, and her son, daughter, and stepson. Norris announced on October 24, 2011, that she would temporarily step down from her All Things Considered hosting duties and refrain from involvement in any NPR political coverage due to her husband’s appointment to the Barack Obama 2012 presidential re-election campaign.

    • StilllHere

      It’s like some incestuous liberal cesspool over there.

  • rich4321

    The term campaign finance is just a fancy phrase for bribery!
    Those who can afford the most owns the candidate.

  • Bigtruck

    This country is in such a bad spot. I don’t understand how the rich get the poor to march in their army of destruction, bent on ending the American dream.

  • Emily311

    Even if you do consider campaign donations to be covered by the first amendment, all rights have restrictions. Why should this be different?

    • StilllHere

      Why do you hate freedom?

    • Jeff

      Perhaps you misunderstand our rights in this situation. Freedom of speech has limits but only when it physically harms people (i.e. yelling fire in a theater or hate speech which causes violence). Expressing a political viewpoint does not fall under that limit. Basically, right now we are limiting how much people can express their political viewpoint…that doesn’t match up with the founding father’s time when there were hundreds of newspapers and pamphlets for every viewpoint (they were much more vulgar than campaigns and political ads are today).

      • jefe68

        There was a time when elections were bought by wealthy individuals. Which the very reason restraints on campaign contributions were put into place.

        • Jeff

          Which presidents were bought and paid for?

          • StilllHere

            Apparently none.

  • rich4321

    Money == Free speech?

    • John_in_Amherst

      american. sadly.

  • Scott B

    I don’t know what cave the five conservative justices claim to have been living in, but they, along with the rest of the country and world, have seen what fresh hell their decision on Citizens United wrought on politics in the last elections. Now they stand poised to fully let loose the flood gates, ignoring all fact, history, and experience, with what money does to influence politics.

    This country has been there, done that. That’s why we had the limits on money in politics that we did. If they rule in favor of money we stand to go back to the days of Congress being selected, not by Governors, as in the past, but by billionaires buying seats by proxy.

    • Jeff

      How did Obama win re-election if Citizen’s United is so horrible? Is it possible people have opinions of their own and are not swayed no matter how many political commercials they see?

      • StilllHere

        He’s got nothing. There was no fresh hell.
        Billionaires get as many votes as you.

        • Scott B

          Does anyone think that Gingrich, or anyone in his position, would have
          stayed in the race without the almost $100,000,000 of Adelson’s
          financing? Moreover, does anyone think that Gingrich, having been
          bankrolled to that amount, would have not been pushing Adelson’s agenda
          should he have won? That money obviously bough Gingrich time, and
          influence on the primary voters.

          A billionaire might have one vote in the booth, but his money gets him access, the ear, and the priority of the person they financed.

          • TFRX

            I understand Newtie stayed in the race because of plenty of generous donations from first wives everywhere.

          • OnPointComments

            Did Barack Obama push the agenda of George Soros?

    • OnPointComments

      Did the fresh hell of Citizens United change your vote?

      • StilllHere

        Apparently not.

    • Scott B

      .

  • Yar

    Most of the money spent in politics has nothing to do with speech, it is just noise used to drown out any sense of speech.

    • StilllHere

      Got it, some speech you don’t like so you call it noise.

  • Potter

    Human nature being what it is with regard to donors and politicians, in a period of such inequality, no limits on campaign finance gives the wealthy more than free speech: it gives them a a very LOUD VOICE!!

    • Jeff

      So people with loud voices shouldn’t be given the same rights as people with quiet voices…right, got it!

      • Potter

        No, what you don’t get is that people who are poor have low or no voice and people who are rich have loud voices, influence. Politicians NEED money to get voters. Then they feel obligated to do favors for donors or take positions to gain power (HUMAN NATURE) compromise their values( HUMAN NATURE) Free speech means, or should mean that a poor person can be heard if they want to be.

        You have it upside down- the poor person is denied rights to be heard if money is speech.

        Listen up to people who are saying this on this program.

  • brian copeland

    This metaphor that money spent on politics is “free speech” is ridiculous. Put the 9 justices in a soundproof room and give someone else a megaphone and then tell me that all speech is equal.

    • Jeff

      That’s the point, speech isn’t equal so trying to make it equal is a limiting of basic rights…you’re literally saying someone with a loud voice should have their free speech rights limited.

      • brian copeland

        A democracy is one voice, one vote. Unlimited money (even before Citizens United) in politics is amplifying certain voices with select interests.

        • StilllHere

          So still one vote.

        • Jeff

          Corporations still have zero votes…or are you seriously suggesting that Citizen’s United changed that?

  • ajhodge

    If SCOTUS rules for McCutcheon, that says to me that if you have more money, you get more free speech. That doesn’t sound democratic to me.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      The Sulzberger’s own and control the NYTimes. By your argument control of a powerful mouthpiece by a single family is equally undemocratic and given the power of the Times could be even more ‘damaging’ to democracy.

      • Ray in VT

        I don’t think nearly as damaging as what happens when a conservative billionaire provides a media channel for one party/position and hooks up with a shady Saudi prince.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          I think you missed my point.

          But to your gripe, I guess you don’t buy the ‘fair and balanced’ thingy. Alan Colmes doesn’t rock your boat?

          I don’t know about the saudi prince thingy. I haven’t seen his influence in the WSJ or Foxnews. Have you?

          • Ray in VT

            What was your point? Was it that one family owning a media outlet creates more speech for that family?

            I certainly don’t buy the fair and balanced thingy. I think that Fox’s slate of talking heads is pretty highly slanted to the right.

            Newscorp’s second largest shareholder is Al-Waleed bin Talal. I do wonder how he has been covered. For instance he had ties to the so called “terror mosque”, and I’m not sure that if Fox addressed that fact during its reporting. By and large I do think that the American media gives the Saudis fairly slack coverage and criticism, considering many government policies and the monarchy there having supported some pretty hard line fundamentalist interpretations of the faith.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I was simply saying that ajhodges argument could be used AGAINST the times. I don’t believe the NYTIMES should be limited in any way. However, I also believe they need strong competition to counter their partisan tripe.

            Again, I haven’t noticed any softening of Fox’s coverage of jihadi-ism or terrorism. Are they covering-up Saudi ties? I don’t know.

          • Ray in VT

            Being a strong counter to partisan tripe is what the New York Times is doing.

            Covering up ties? Maybe or maybe not. It doesn’t seem like they advertise it. I wonder how many of their viewers would react to knowing that such an individual is funding Fox? It is a bit ironic that given Fox’s stance on things such as the mosque in question that their second largest shareholder is a Muslim. I wonder if Pam Geller knows?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Of course :)

          • Ray in VT

            Like the NYT, the Wall Street Journal, which you seem to favor, does some very nice reporting. With both papers I stay away from the op-ed pages.

          • harverdphd

            they said bush won

      • John_in_Amherst

        right. and FOX and the NYT are equivalent in terms of truthfulness accuracy and balance…

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          That’s correct — they are not equivalent.

          But you missed my point too. I not suggesting the NYTimes should be limited in any way. However, they need competition especially now that they are so partisan.

          • TFRX

            So partisan?

            That’s cute. When they get rid of MoDo, Russ Douthat, and Bill (Obama should appoint Ken Starr to investigate “scandals real and imaginary”) Keller…

  • alsordi

    The USA can be summarized as follows, its an entity that survives under a mass media facade of democracy, free markets, and equality, but in reality is an economic monster wherein every aspect of its system is rigged: elections, media, stock-market, courts, defense, banking, etc.

    The USA survives merely by reaching, not an equilibrium, but a delicate point of non-resistance from a populace that is temporarily constrained by fear and hardship, as well as bread and circus, whose citizens, for the most part, are unable to comprehend nor react to the extent and complex methodology to which they are being scammed and exploited.

    • DocH20

      Been preaching this for 40 yrs “the delicate point of non-resistance…..” Example: Congress enacted the legislation allowing “derivative” bundles of mortgages to be sold to an uninformed public in the interest of corporate greed. This was a major cause of the 2008-09 debacle that ruined may retirement portfolios and lives. It is impossible for the populace to keep up with the day-today legislation that is being controlled by big money.

      • sickofthechit

        I participated in the Liquidation of a ReInsurance company. When we started we had about $60,000,000 in assets and in excess of $500,000,000 in liabilities (paid losses, outstanding losses and a thing called IBNR {Incurred But Not Reported}). It took about 20 years to collect what was owed (from our Retrocessionaires (Reinsurers of Reinsurers, etc.,etc.)and get a more accurate assessment of actual liabilities. In the end we wound up paying better than 80 cents on the dollar.

        This is the same kind of process that could have and should have been used on the Derivatives and the Collateralized Mortgage Obligations. Problem was the fast money types were unwilling to stand still and see how bad the business really was or wasn’t. They wanted to get to the next trade and keep the paper flying. If you have a $100,000 foreclosed home and it gets bundled up over and over again it is still a $100,000 home with some value at the end of the day. It is not a $500,000 loss just because it got rebundled four times. charles a. bowsher

  • Jostrenz

    As Anatole France wrote a long time ago:
    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

  • Marc Prufer

    I think we need to redefine the meaning of the word “conservative” if this supposedly conservative court rules in favor for unlimited corruptible spending for quid pro quo over the conservative approach which would limit this kind of flagrant buying of elections of lawmakers and then our laws.

    • Jeff

      So you’re arguing that Obama is corrupt because he won?

      • Marc Prufer

        I think that spending a billion dollars on a presidential election is wrong. Are you saying that Romney didn’t match Obama’s spending? We need to be going in the other direction not towards more liberal spending. Are you conservative?

        • Jeff

          Actually I’m neither conservative or liberal…I’m somewhere in between. I just don’t like the hypocrisy of the general public on this issue…many people don’t like corporations so they feel it’s okay to limit free speech rights. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech…no restrictions unless it would directly cause physical harm to people. BTW, I did vote for Obama in the 2008 primary.

          • Marc Prufer

            Safe place to be Jeff. So its hypocracy huh — ask yourself why people like Mitt Romney paid 11-15% of their income to taxes yet the rest of us pay a much higher percentage — could it be that they’ve paid legislatures for the benefit? No – not in the USA — there aren’t any problems here with people paying to pass laws that they want by buying the candidate that will guarantee the same — all in the name of ideology!

          • sickofthechit

            JEFF! Hey JEFF! Wake up!
            Your first reading and comprehension assignment begins thusly,

            “We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….”
            charles a. bowsher

      • TFRX

        Gawd, you’re reaching.

        You shoulda quit the Red Bull awhile ago.

    • StilllHere

      Is this about vote buying, I thought it was about speech. I’m against corporations and unions paying people to vote a certain way.

    • TFRX

      “Conservative” is a word which used to have meaning.

      I don’t care now.

      All the folk who claim it can get into a phone booth and whoever wins the (proverbial) fistfight the media should listen to.

      Otherwise everybody who wishes gets to say “I’m a conservative” and the press just passes that “information” along.

      • Marc Prufer

        The right has moved so far to the right that they’re moving the center of gravity. No way can you call Obama care socialist, yet the general population believes that it is now. No way can you claim that the left is anti gun, yet there are people afraid that the government is coming to take their guns. Now, the right says freedom of speech should mean that money equals that freedom and that corporations are people. Where will this end? Who are and what are conservatives?

    • OnPointComments

      Please provide us with proof of politicians who accepted quid pro quo contributions.

      • Marc Prufer

        The majority of republicans who will not vote for common sense gun reform? Just to name all nearly all of them at once.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Just because they don’t get caught, does not make it okay.

  • MrNutso

    It’s not about base limits until the next law suit.

  • StilllHere

    More money in politics is a good thing. It’s great for the economy! It gets that money out of Treasury bonds so it’s doing something useful. We need more of it.

  • zzowee

    If money is just speech, why do we continue to prohibit foreign individuals and corporations from giving? It seems to me that the conservatives on the court know very well that it’s not the case. Even strict constructionists can’t pretend they’re making academic decisions in a vacuum.

  • Financephil

    Justice Scalia is so passionate about free speech when it comes to buying politicians. Not so much when the issue is a kid holding a sign “Bong Hits for Jesus”. Morse v. Frederick.

    • Scott B

      Scalia calls himself a “Constitutional originalist” and he is. He believes that free, white, land-holding (read “rich”) males should be protected above all else.

  • Jostrenz

    Free Speech!
    I finally get it: Money talks!

  • MrStang

    “changing the world for the better” “All Americans are entitled to free speech”…as much as they can afford.

  • Matt

    I don’t understand the free speech argument. How does a poor, working, single mother on food stamps exercise the “free speech” that Mr. McCutcheon enjoys?

    • Jeff

      She volunteers for a campaign.

      • Matt

        She (ignoring her poor and mother statuses) and Mr. McCutcheon could, theoretically, equally volunteer on a weekend, the question was how she would exercise the “free speech” that Mr. McCutcheon is, actually, exercising?

    • StilllHere

      She lights her foodstamps on fire in front of Congress and says, “Congress needs to do something about free entitlements with no expectation of behavior change.” Film at 11. Bam! The liberal media is all over this courageous woman and her call for change in our society of government dependence.

      • TFRX

        Let’s have some of those McDonnell-Douglas or Lockheed white-collar defense contractors get off the teat first.

      • ml77

        Pretty sure it’s the food that those people depend on, not the government. Children shouldn’t suffer so their parents can prove a point by burning their best chance at a meal.

      • jimino

        Our current US Senator from Nebraska, Deb Fischer, gets $100,000 in free federal grazing rights every year, more than the typical food stamp recipient gets in 25 years, and without which her “business” would be much less profitable. Now THAT’S genuine government dependence, which I’m sure doesn’t bother you a bit.

  • adks12020

    “Money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a candidate will get elected”
    No, it doesn’t but it does guarantee that candidate’s message will be louder than the message of the candidate that doesn’t have that money. It does help to drown out the voice of the people with less money who cannot contribute to their preferred candidates in such large amount. It does guarantee that people who associate themselves with, and cater to the needs and desires of, the rich will have more access to speech than those that don’t.

    • TFRX

      As someone who is not a Yankees fan, I especially snort at the “the person who spends most doesn’t win” gambit.

      (Disclaimer: Not a Red Sox fan either.)

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        It is interesting that both the A’s($65M) and the Rays ($59M)made it fairly far into the playoffs.

        Of course, so have the Dodgers at $214M.

        • Ray in VT

          Well, the Rays made it 4 games (6 if you count the play in games), and Oakland is still kicking, but long term it is fairly difficult to field a contending team if you can’t lure talented free agents. Some teams don’t even draft the top talent because of the signing bonus issue. Money doesn’t always buy championships, but it has certainly helped many to do it.

        • TFRX

          And cutting their payroll will get them farther next year.

          Oh, wait…

          The smart bet is for teams with the money to spend. The Yankees are routinely “throwing away” (paying injured or cut players) 40-60m many seasons.

          When you have that kind of money to spread around you can afford to make mistakes. When you don’t, your “big pickup” is someone else’s seventh-place hitter, or some future playing in Lake Elsinore or Lansing whose batting eye you’re sure your hitting coach can fix.

  • TFRX

    “More isn’t going to hurt anything” says McCutcheon.

    Broadcasting companies make a lot of money running campaign ads. They even get “full up” sometimes–where there are no slots left should someone come in with an ad and the money to run it.

  • Marc Prufer

    So, what the right is saying is the more money you spend the louder your voice is, but putting it under the guise of free speech. Free speech at a high volume and high price to drown out any speech at low volume – low cost. Oligarchy. Plutocracy.

    • Jeff

      So people with loud voices should have fewer free speech rights than people with quiet voices, okay got it!

      • Marc Prufer

        Yeah – the same way people with more money pay less of their paycheck to taxes.

      • Marc Prufer

        Why do you think the rich pay less of thier income in taxes Jeff? Any idea why?

        • pete18

          But pay more of the tax burden then anyone else. Any idea why?

          • Marc Prufer

            Yeah, a 2011 study by the CBO found that the top earning 1 percent of households increased their income by about 275% after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America’s income distribution. Other sources find that the trend has continued since then. In spite of this data, only 42% of Americans think inequality has increased in the past ten years. In 2012, the gap between the richest 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent was the widest it’s been since the 1920s. Incomes of the wealthiest 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent, whereas the income of the remaining 99 percent rose 1 percent in comparison.

          • Marc Prufer

            Among economists and related experts, most agree that America’s growing income inequality is “deeply worrying”, unjust, a danger to democracy/social stability, or a sign of national decline. Concern extends even to such supporters (or former supporters) of laissez-faire economics and private sector financiers. Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, has stated reference to growing inequality: “This is not the type of thing which a democratic society – a capitalist democratic society – can really accept without addressing.” Some economists (David Moss, Paul Krugman) believe the “Great Divergence” may be connected to the financial crisis of 2008. Money manager William H. Gross, managing director of PIMCO, criticized the shift in distribution of income from labor to capital that underlies some of the growth in inequality as unsustainable, saying:

            “Even conservatives must acknowledge that return on capital investment, and the liquid stocks and bonds that mimic it, are ultimately dependent on returns to labor in the form of jobs and real wage gains. If Main Street is unemployed and undercompensated, capital can only travel so far down Prosperity Road.” He concluded: “Investors/policymakers of the world wake up – you’re killing the proletariat goose that lays your golden eggs.”

            On the other side of the issue are those who have claimed that the increase is not significant, that it doesn’t matter because America’s economic growth and/or equality of opportunity are what’s important, that it is a global phenomenon which would be foolish to try to change through US domestic policy,that it “has many economic benefits and is the result of … a well-functioning economy”, and has or may become an excuse for “class-warfare rhetoric”, and may lead to policies that “reduce the well-being of wealthier individuals”.

            I think the data speaks for itself — if you’re wondering why the world as you knew it is changing – check your own earnings from 2008 to present — big increases? If so, you’re probably in the 1% — I know mine are stagnant with no increase – not even in step with inflation or cost of living increases.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        All people’s voices are equal “loudness” – being rich can’t buy you “more” rights. If you want to make your voice louder, then that is not protected speech – it is an action.

  • Jacob Kraft

    It isn’t free speech, it’s extra votes. Would anyone argue that someone should get extra votes because they have more money? I doubt they would, however I believe that’s exactly what is going on — the people who spend more money control more votes once their candidates get in congress, plain and simple.

    • StilllHere

      Except it’s not. One vote, that’s all you get.

  • toc1234

    Great work Tom, you’re through 40min w/o mentioning your hero’s (first) broken promise..

    “His (Sen Obama) decision to break an earlier pledge to take public money will quite likely transform the landscape of presidential campaigns, injecting hundreds of millions of additional dollars into the race and raising doubts about the future of public financing for national races..” (-NYTIMES)

    • TFRX

      Please, tell us why a Democrat should unilaterally disarm.

      • Jeff

        Because he made a promise.

        • TFRX

          Please tell us why a Democrat should unilaterally disarm.

          • Jeff

            Because people are suppose to stand on principles…if you don’t believe in something then don’t use it. If you make a promise then keep it and if your word means nothing (how many red lines have been crossed multiple times now?) then you have no credibility.

          • TFRX

            Please tell us why a Democrat should unilaterally disarm.

          • Jeff

            Glad to see you don’t believe Democrats should adhere to principles and promises.

          • TFRX

            Please tell us why “bipartisanship” is so great only when a Democrat does it first and the media trusts the GOP will follow suit.

          • Jeff

            Name one major budget issue that Obama didn’t get so far…Stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, no cuts in entitlements, debt limit increases, reduced military spending…once again Obama got everything he wanted (as far as budgets and spending are concerned). So what’s this bipartisanship you’re talking about?

          • sickofthechit

            The so called Stimulus was 1/3 tax cuts (to get Republican support), 1/3 aid to states that were in major crisis from the mess left by bush and 1/3 actual stimulus. Try to remember simple facts please.

    • Jeff

      You know if it was a Republican who made that promise and went back on it the media would never let it go…when it’s a Democrat then we gloss over it and will not even mention it in a conversation about campaign funding.

      • Marc Prufer

        Obama’s campaign funding came from more people. Romney’s funding came from less people. Question: Would Romney be more likely to owe favors to the few that funded his campaign with $million dollar contributions each or would Obama who would owe millions for their $10 contribution?

        • OnPointComments

          What did President Obama promise George Soros?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            So, big contributions DO buy influence?

          • StilllHere

            Or the unions that spent $400 million supporting him!

          • Marc Prufer

            So there are individuals that contribute a lot to campaigns — let me make myself clear — I’m not for unlimited contributions by either party. Question did Obama receive the majority of donations from people contributing less than $50.00 each or did Romney? Who had the most money coming from unnamed sources and from individuals giving in excess of $1 million each? this system is ridiculous — its going the wrong way.

        • Jeff

          I’m talking about 2008 promise to use public funding that Obama did not do when he found he could get more money by refusing the public financing. BTW, John McCain did take the public financing.

          • hennorama

            McCain took public financing because he knew the OPPOSITE — he couldn’t get more from other sources.

            You are familiar with the word “politics” are you not?

            Sheesh.

          • Marc Prufer

            So you were against it before you were for it?

    • StilllHere

      Please, tell us why a Democrat would be expected to live up to their words.

  • ianway

    Since Mr. McCutcheon could not answer Tom’s question about the disadvantageous position of people who do not have the money to buy the level of “free speech” he can, I’ll answer for him: Tough luck, you sorry slobs. The founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves to have the noble idea of free speech reduced to a matter of how much money one has to spend to speak freely.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Free speech?

    The LA Times announced this weekend that they will not publish any letters to the editor from climate change skeptics. They said that they are not scientific experts but instead will use the UN political entity – the IPCC — as their fact checker.

    We cannot rely on institutions we relied on in the past as honest brokers. Therefore, we need to open more avenues of free speech to avoid these dinosaurs while they go out of business.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      You can have your own opinion – but you cannot have your own facts.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Neil, we agree. But given their latest propaganda with the AR5 memo, using the IPCC as an arbiter of ‘facts’ is laughable.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          The IPCC is the best scientific understanding we have of the reality of climate change.

          No one should be laughing.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            The IPCC is run by politicians representing the money grab crowd. The sooner you recognize that the happier your life will be.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Which politicians “run the IPCC”?

  • MarkVII88

    McCutcheon seems to be saying that it’s all about free speech but he’s not shy about the fact that he’s freer than most to drop tens of thousands to leverage political influence. The irony is that his “free” speech includes spending tens of thousands of dollars that most Americans have no way to match, essentially cancelling out their voices.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      It cannot be free speech if you have to buy it.

    • John_in_Amherst

      Freedom to spend is not freedom to speak! Freedom to spend does away with the average person’s freedom to speak. Do away with anonymous donors and proxy organizations. If the rich want to speak their minds in the public arena, let THEM do it, openly, publicly.

    • OnPointComments

      Suppose that my situation enables me to stand on a soapbox and voice my views from 8:00 to 5:00 every day, but you have to work from 8:00 to 5:00. Have I limited your right to free speech? Should my voice be restricted by the hours which you have available?

  • DeJay79

    The only investments business even consider are ones that have the potential for ROI! The mere fact that the want in means they are affecting the laws to profit just themselves!

    Should our political system and its legislative actions be considered as an ROI for big business?

    That is what this is all about. We are very close if not already there where we have a government of the people, for the Corp, by the bribe!

  • OnPointComments

    Do the biggest contributors to NPR control NPR?

    • StilllHere

      NPR seems to do the government’s bidding. There was some whiny story this morning about somebody not being paid for 36 hours. Aren’t they the single largest contributor?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        NPR got their $400M during the shutdown but the war dead aren’t getting their funeral money despite the military being fully funded before the shutdown.

        Shameful.

        • StilllHere

          Why do Democrats hate military survivors?

          • jimino

            Why do Republicans and their right-wing supporters love creating military survivors?

  • Fodd

    Money is NOT Free Speech! Why should an individual or entity with lots of money have more Free Speech than individuals with less money? Money as speech is not democratic, is not just, and gives those with money much more access than those of us with less money. If this passes America will be less, it’s public will be less represented, and the influence of the wealthy well connected “haves” in our society will once again shadow the majority of those who have less – the poor and middle class. From my vantage point this appears to be a disgusting and obnoxious power grab. Very disturbing!

    • OnPointComments

      If money is not free speech, as you have stated, then more money would not be more free speech.

      • Fodd

        I suppose i should have stated, “money should not be equal to Free Speech”. In our experiment of democracy having money equal to free speech will be disastrous as has been demonstrated throughout history time and again. In my dream of America money is not speech and I have an equal voice to all rich or poor. However, sadly the supreme court appears to have declared that money is free speech in Citizen’s United. A huge mistake in my opinion. This should trouble every American rich or poor.

        • OnPointComments

          Did Citizens United change your vote?

          • StilllHere

            If not them, maybe a good friend’s.

      • Fodd

        Money should Not equal free speech, but the outcome of Citizens United suggests that money does equal speech. And a ruling in support of unlimited contributions from individuals suggests the same. Money can, and often does, mean more access. More access for the individual who donates said money to the representative and more access of the representative to get her/his message out to the public. This suggests people with lots of money – the minority – get to say more (to those who have influence), have their point of view listened to more (by those who have influence) and that representative with said money has more access through adds to the public. This could certainly drowned out a majority – those lonely singular voices who have little money to donate and hence limited access. This does not sound like 1 person equals 1 vote. Citizens United did not change my vote personally, but it does change the weight of my voice. In a perfect world more money might not make a difference, but in reality more money carries with it more access. More access carries with it the likelihood of more representation of the views of those who have more access. Even if it didn’t, it still appears as though it does and that disenfranchises people with less money and less access. More money will equal more corruption in an already tempting situation our representatives are in. And lobbyists… Well, that is the same thing only different. But hey, one topic at a time…

    • sickofthechit

      Don’t forget the “Have Mores”, the other four fifths of Geroge Bush’s base! charles a. bowsher

    • John_in_Amherst

      Freedom to spend abrogates the freedom of speech for those who cannot spend. Do away with anonymous donors and proxies. The rich want a voice – they have one, let them step to the mic in public and speak, instead of paying flunkies or organizations to do it for them.

  • Ed

    Corporations are not people, they are made of people.
    Money is not speech though it can buy exposure.
    Come on!

    Further proof of a country in a downward spiral.

  • DeJay79

    Free speech is not “Free” any longer. I have no money there for I have no free speech.

    when someone else buys their free speech everyone else loses theirs unless they buy it also!

  • toc1234

    of course Fred is against other people’s freee speech, his wife Linda is an NPR anchor… doubtful MacCutcheon has such access…

  • toc1234

    Tom, be a professional for moment and disclose who this Fred guy is married to…

  • OnPointComments

    No one has provided any proof that large campaign donations have been made in quid pro quo arrangements.

  • MrNutso

    Yes that’s right. Every campaign contributer will say they expected nothing in return, but the fact that someone voted for something that benefited me is a mere coinincidenc.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Wink, wink, nudge, nudge – say NO MORE!

  • jsilverhand

    If congressional bills can’t stand to Supreme Court review what will it take to make it law that money IS NOT speech.

    • Jeff

      A constitutional amendment, good luck passing one that limits the 1st Amendment.

      • Potter

        You take for granted that money is speech. It is not.

        • Jeff

          Is advertising speech? Does advertising cost money? You have your answers if you say yes to both those questions.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Not all advertising costs money. Having to pay for it doesn’t define it as advertising.

      • sickofthechit

        Corporations are not protected by our Constitution or our Bill of Rights. Try reading them both. charles a. bowsher

  • toc1234

    Ask Fred if he thinks it was appropriate for NPR host Michele Norris and her husband to host an Obama fundraiser at their place on the Vineyard. With the follow up question being, what did he and Linda think of the hors-d’oeuvres? Talk about access and resources…

    • Jeff

      Don’t you know, hypocrisy is completely allowed if you’re a Democrat…we won’t even mention it on an NPR show about campaign financing…while interviewing someone who ran a fundraiser for the current president. You can’t make this stuff up!

      • Marc Prufer

        Outrageous, I’m sure! So you’re taking the higher ground aye? How about a Supreme Court Justice at a republican fundraiser — doesn’t that just sound like freedom to you?

    • J__o__h__n

      She took a leave of absence for the campaign.

      • harverdphd

        because she was tired of getting beat up by conservatives smarter than she

  • DocH20

    Founding fathers, even in their great wisdom, could not foresee the present conditions. We need to have constitutional convention to correct/realign the constitution with our goals for democratic republic in this modern world.

    • Jeff

      Translation: we must limit your 1st amendment rights…the founding fathers didn’t know about the internet, radio or TV so that’s the justification for limiting your 1st amendment rights….yeah right.

      • Potter

        The problem is the ruling that money is speech. You will have to take this up with the founding fathers if you think it is. The SCOTUS ruling to the contrary was/is very harmful to this country’s well-being.

        • Jeff

          Money spent on advertising is speech.

  • Cindy C Barnard

    This caller is so misguided about free speech. Yes we all get the right to speak, but those who have a bullhorn will drown out the many.

    Money changes everything – where has the Supreme Court been in the last few years.

    Money corrupts and to not have limits would, like gerrymandering, result in elections to those who can speak with bullhorns, not to the majority.

    For the Supreme Court to think the “educated” citizen can discern an “honest” campaign ad to a disingenuous ad is living in a vacuum on the hill.

    Ad agencies know what it takes to sway behavior and this expertise is used to easily broadcast disingenuous information and confuse many voters — next to the candidate w/o the ability to match the funds needed to counter these ads.

    Please give us all a break and stop thinking in mythological theory and ideals.

    In the last election 1.4 million more votes went to Democrats for the House yet Republicans took the house by a margin of 234 – 201, thanks to gerrymandering. Well let’s just make it worse here and thrown in unlimited contributions.

    And we’re wondering why we are having a government shutdown and a pending default. No one’s yet to mention, I believe, how citizens united may be largely responsible for the condition currently on the hill.

    Please give us a break already #EnoughAlready

    • OnPointComments

      Did Citizens United change your vote?

      • lobstahbisque

        Spam spam spam spam
        spam spam spam spam

      • Cindy C Barnard

        I take your point, I truly do. Why can’t people think for themselves.

        But again, this idea assumes an equal playing field of informed population. And really what does that mean. Education is the key and that’s another debate.

        I try to stay informed only to realize what I don’t know. I depend on certain fact-checkers to help me swim through this information – and then accounting is as creative a field as abstract art!

        Mix disinformation or a slanting of the truth or a statement out of context with an overwhelming amount of money to fund ads and how will people keep up?

        And on another note, how many people, surprisingly, understand that the ACA and ObamaCare are one and the same?

  • OnPointComments

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    It seems clear to me. If the government limits the manner in which a person exercises freedom of speech, then that person’s freedom of speech has been abridged.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Rich people can still vote. And they can stand on a soapbox, too. They have just as much free speech as you and I.

      • OnPointComments

        Is it your contention that the only free speech protected by the Constitution is the human voice, unaided by anything that amplifies it or distributes it to a wider audience?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Yes, speech is spoken or written. No one has to pay to be able to do it.

          Poll taxes are illegal for a reason. We should not have to pay to be able to speak or vote.

          • pete18

            Then should candidates not be allowed to advertise?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Advertising is a way to spread one’s speech more widely, but not all advertising costs money.

            So, money is not equivalent to speech.

          • pete18

            So candidates should not be allowed to pay for advertising?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            What leap of logic is that?

            TV ads should be free to all legitimate candidates – the air waves are in facts the property of the public, and we lease them to broadcasters, so to put them to use for the very core purpose of our democracy should be part of the deal.

            Money grubbing is just wrong, and it should not be how we elect people to work for the good of all.

            Oh, and it goes without saying that corporations are not people. The people in the corporation are the ones with protected speech, and the corporation they created does not.

          • pete18

            TV ads are not free nor is there any constitutional argument that would make them so. The government does not own the airwaves (although they do try hard to regulate them) and congress never intended for them to control the airwaves. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/98059-The_Public_Airwaves_Myth.php

            Even if they were pubic and Congress could force TV broadcasters to give free ad time to all the candidates who were running (could you imagine how dull that would make TV) what about the people who produce the ads? To make a campaign ad you need actors, video and film people, editors, sound people, producers, script writers, graphic artists, lighting technicians, researchers etc. Is congress also going to force these people to work for free too? Is television the only place that candidates will be allowed to advertise?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            The public “owns” the airwaves.

            We lease them to the broadcasters. Political speech should be stipulated in that lease to be free to all legitimate candidates.

            The Constitution requires that we have informed voters.

            We also need public financing of all elections. Elections should be shorter, and we need open primaries – all candidates from all parties run in the primary against each other, and then the top two (or three) run in the general election against each other, even if they are in the same party.

          • pete18

            “The public “owns” the airwaves.”

            Saying doesn’t make it so. They do not own the airwaves.

            “The Constitution requires that we have informed voters.”

            Really? Where does it say that?

            You didn’t answer my question about forcing the other people that help create commercials to work without pay. What is your opinion on that? How could you have free commercials without dealing with that aspect of it?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            The government leases the use of the radio spectrum, because we all own it, and somebody has to organize things and keep everybody in line. The public, in effect, owns the spectrum. That’s a fact.

            Yes, the press is a critical part of our democracy. If nobody knows what is going on, then our democracy suffers the consequences of an ill-informed citizenry.

            Your question is a straw man argument. No one is suggesting that some ads require that they be paid for. You came to that deadend all on your own.

            The campaign produces and ad (with volunteers or with paid professionals) and they provide it to the broadcasters who are required to broadcast it for free, as a part of their lease of the public’s airwaves.

            It is a simple concept.

          • pete18

            I’m just trying to understand your idea. You want big money out of politics, so you suggest that television broadcasters be forced to broadcast free advertisements for any “legitimate” candidate. Out side of the fact that this is a fantasy that would never hold up to a constitutional challenge, how would it work? Under your plan, would the candidates be able to spend money on anything else, like advertising in other media, political consulting groups, the production costs for the ads, etc? If “yes,” how would that get rid of the influence of money on campaigns, if “no” wouldn’t you be limiting both the candidates 1st amendment rights and the ability for them to pay for the production of the TV ads?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Again, that is a strange leap of logic.

            We need to keep big money out of politics, because big money has a lot of influence. ALL the influence should come from voters ONLY.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          “…unaided by anything that amplifies it or distributes it to a wider audience?”

          Money is different than speech. Money allows you to speak to more people, but that doesn’t make it speech.

          A car allows you to travel and talk to more people – but a car is not speech. The Internet allows you to spread your speech all over – but the Internet itself is not speech.

          Geddit?

          • OnPointComments

            Suppose that my situation enables me to stand on a soapbox and voice my views from 8:00 to 5:00 every day, but you have to work from 8:00 to 5:00. Have I limited your right to free speech? Should my voice be restricted by the hours which you have available?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            No, because I’ll make up for it by being concise and to the point. And I’ll use the Internet.

            Money |=| Speech.

    • Potter

      Money is not speech. After that I can agree with you.

      • OnPointComments

        As someone else has asked, if I own a newspaper and the government shuts it down, has my freedom of speech been abridged? Would such a government act abridge freedom of the press?

        • John_in_Amherst

          so let Ruppert Murdoch or the Kochs or Adelson grow a pair and stand up personally to voice their opinions, instead of paying their proxy flunkies to do the job. That would be freedom of speech. What we’ve got is freedom to spend, not freedom to speak, and that creates inequality.

    • J__o__h__n

      We could redistribute their disproportionate share of the wealth away from them.

      • StilllHere

        Even more than you already do?

        That’ll be a great incentive for all you slackers.

    • John_in_Amherst

      pssst, OPC, you must have omitted the clause that says “OR ABRIDGING THE RIGHT TO OUTSPEND THE OPPOSITION THEREBY LIMITING DISCOURSE IN AN ATTEMPT TO BUY ELECTIONS” That’s in there, right?

      • OnPointComments

        If I outspend you, how have I limited your free speech?

        • John_in_Amherst

          Freedom to spend is not freedom to speak! Freedom to spend abrogates
          the average person’s freedom to speak. Do away with anonymous donors
          and proxy organizations. If the rich want to speak their minds in the
          public arena, let THEM do it, openly, publicly. It is their right. If
          the Kochs or Murdoch or Adelson want to enter into the public discourse,
          they are free to do so, but let THEM do it, in person, NOT via their
          multitudinous minions & network flunkies. In the modern media world, speech is not heard, it is broadcast or published, which takes money. Is what you are saying only people who have money to spend on media deserve to be heard? OK, so let it be the spender who speaks.

        • TFRX

          If you buy the last time slot for the umpteenth running of your ad, and I can’t find one place on TV for mine. That’s how.

          Hey, you go with the money is speech crap, you live with it.

  • toc1234

    Did Fred say Watergate or Whitewater?

  • grifdog

    Unrelated to the specifics of this case however I think must be at least considered in the overall analysis….
    have we forgotten about Lobbyists ….e. g. Jack Abramoff…
    Now after Citizens United ….Diminish the typical citizens voice further ……?
    this smacks to be an off-Election year directive by special interests…whose agenda would be best served by the further erosion of the law……
    Its all about money and influence….same old story
    and is not in the best interest of our teetering democracy.

    • OnPointComments

      Did Citizens United change your vote?

      • lobstahbisque

        Green eggs and spam spam spam spam…..

    • StilllHere

      How?
      Are you saying organizations shouldn’t be able to have lobbyists? Or no one should be able to meet with a legislator or their staff?
      Please cite one election result changed definitively by CU.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Lobbying without any money changing hands is fine.

        • fun bobby

          it does not change hands directly that would be bribery. its always indirect

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Oh, you mean a wink and a nod make it all legal?

    • notafeminista

      You know what’s really funny about Abramoff’s story? He was originally paid to suppress competition. He was paid to make sure someone else didn’t compete with his customer. His customer? A Native American tribe with a casino.
      Just can’t make this stuff up.

  • Bill O’Brien

    I agree that the influence of money in on our political system is as much at fault for our current problems as anything. It would be great if that influence were severely curtailed.

    But I do worry that limits on campaign contributions is an infringement on free speech. The 1st amendment protects political speech if it protects anything. This isn’t exactly speech, so I think its a close call constitutionally.

    I’m a liberal, but I think that liberals over the last 30 years or so have tried to address problems too often by tinkering with regulations. This is probably because Democrats have perceived that that this is now a center right country, politically, and were trying to get the most they thought they could. Obamacare is a good example. I support it, but a single payer system would be much, much better.

    So, I say the best solution $ in politics (albeit an imperfect one) is public financing.

    • Jeff

      Funny, so your solution to other people spending too much of their own money on campaigns of their choice is to force each and every person to pay additional taxes in order force everyone to pay for campaigns they don’t agree with.

      • StilllHere

        Government-directed free speech, just like the founding fathers envisioned it.

        • John_in_Amherst

          rules governing society, just like the FF’s envisioned it

      • Bill O’Brien

        Taxes always involve forcing some people to pay for things they don’t agree with. So, unless you are an Anarchist, I’m not sure what your point is. Do you want to do away with the military?

        By ‘public financing,’ I mean that the govt would provide free air time to candidates to partially counteract the influence of money from special interests.

        • fun bobby

          I would like to do away with the military. a standing army is anathema to liberty

      • sickofthechit

        You look a lot like John Houseman the crazy Millionaire character on the Daily Show. charles a. bowsher

    • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

      You are absolutely correct Bill

    • John_in_Amherst

      It might be easier to rejigger the process of primaries and elections. A few simple rules would suffice. 1.) All political ad buys would have to be made openly, with no anonymous contributors. 2.) Restrict pols’ campaigning to a season lasting 5 months. This could be done without a law, by a “good-faith agreement” 3.) Hold a nationwide primary 3 months in advance of the general election. 4.) The campaign season would include 4 publicly financed televised debates between presidential candidates, with the last one a month before the election. This would sharpen the electorate’s focus and reduce the time the parties & their supporters have to dump money into ads. Finally, 5.) Election day would be a national holiday (perhaps piggybacked into a Veterans’ day observance) and voting would result in a $50 across the board tax rebate, with failure to vote resulting in no rebate for anyone who failed to vote.

      • Bill O’Brien

        I agree, especially with your suggestion about transparency. Nothing in the 1st amendment protects anonymity of the speech, at least that I am aware of.

        • notafeminista

          Nothing in there about transparency either.

      • fun bobby

        would third party candidates be allowed in the debates?

        • John_in_Amherst

          you tell me. Now they have to get a huge pile of cash to be viable

          • fun bobby

            you have identified the problem we have now. who ever spends the most money wins the election. the way it is now we should just auction off the seats, we would have the same people elected and we wont have to be bombarded with all the advertising and such and we could donate the money to a good cause. they spent like 2 billion on the last presidential election, that money could probably do some good. I like your idea of voting incentives maybe everyone who voted would get a lottery ticket. that would get the people to the polls.
            I would suggest we should have a series of ten broadcasted debates that anyone can enter who gets a reasonable number of signatures and ban all advertising by candidates and on their behalf.
            but this is your plan. any reforms that reinforce the two party system will lead to more of the status quo. what does your plan do in relation to the 3rd parties?

          • John_in_Amherst

            I’m all for 3 or more parties, and I wish I had a clue as to how we could get there…. I have been hoping against hope that the GOP splits into the teabaggers and that the moderate GOPers join up with moderate Dems who would split off the more radical progressives. Bingo! 3, maybe 4 parties… The keys to public exposure are largely held by the media, and I fault them for not airing more diverse views and/or allowing additional candidates into the ring. Right now, if a third party were to form and garner just a few seats in the senate or a score in the house, it would force a more conciliatory process. With the house and senate so deadlocked, a few independents could make a hell of a difference. California-style redistricting, with less partisan drawing of districts would probably help. If that didn’t open the door, it would at least force the 2 parties to run primary candidates who have broader appeal and more conciliatory attitudes.

          • fun bobby
          • John_in_Amherst

            interesting platform. bring on the messenger, and let’s see where it goes

          • fun bobby

            their current plan is to populate New Hampshire then secede

          • Bill O’Brien

            your “or more” part is crucial. you kind of need the 3rd and 4th parties to come in at roughly the same time, i think. if its just a 3rd party it will almost always draw more from one of the 2 established parties than from the other (consider R Nader and R perot). so if i am a Republican (or lean that way), for example, i am going to be disinclined to vote for a 3rd p candidate that will sap votes from Rs, etc.

            its probably one of those tipping point scenarios, so that, say, the Green party and the Libertarians would have to rise in prominence quickly and at the same time.

          • John_in_Amherst

            F B: See my comment below about the splitting of the parties, then check this: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/us/business-groups-see-loss-of-sway-over-house-gop.html?ref=todayspaper

          • fun bobby

            perhaps they will disintegrate. that would be nice.that article made me kind of like the tea party. in Worcester the tea party and occupy had joint demonstrations at one point.

    • jefe68

      I agree. And all lobbying should stop.
      That said, I don’t expect this to happen.
      ONe thing to note Sheldon Adelson pumped millions into Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid for the GOP.
      It failed and he lost a lot of money.
      The GOP has lost more bids for the White House than they have one since the 90′s and I suspect they are not going to win the presidency if recent trends continue and they keep moving to the extreme of right.
      They can try to buy elections and keep on gerrymandering districts to favor House elections, but they wont win the in the general elections.

  • StilllHere

    Isn’t the NSA doing this already?
    Sounds like redundant bureaucracy. No need to make the gov even bigger.

    • Kevin Johnson

      If the NSA is, they’re not making all those conversations public.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Are the lefties here also upset with Bloomberg spending $millions across the country supporting gun control candidates?

    Or is that free speech OK — because we agree with it.

    • jefe68

      Yes, it has to work both ways.

    • Matt

      Yes

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Buying advertising is different from protected speech. Anyone can buy ads, and this is different from giving money to politicians.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        But Neil, the money IS used to buy ads.

        • John_in_Amherst

          let the spenders actually do the speaking, without anonymity or proxies. What we have now is freedom to spend, not freedom to speak.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Oh I agree. There should be transparency.

            Except…..

            What if the President or his allies uses the donor list to create an enemies list?

            They shouldn’t be targeted by government agencies (EPA, IRS, etc.) like in the last election cycle.

            http://blog.heritage.org/2012/04/20/president-obamas-enemies-list/

          • John_in_Amherst

            The FF’s hardly ran around speaking anonymously – they realized that standing up for convictions is not always safe. If we lose faith that truth and justice will eventually prevail, our democracy is already dead.

          • notafeminista

            Check out the history on Benjamin Franklin’s usage of pseudonyms.

          • John_in_Amherst

            Like when he admonished his cohorts, We must hang together or we shall all hang separately?

          • OnPointComments

            I bet Frank Vandersloot wishes he had remained anonymous.

          • jimino

            Why? What’s he trying to hide?

          • OnPointComments

            I’m guessing that he wishes he had hidden his name so that he would not have been the object of harassment by government agencies in retaliation for supporting Mitt Romney.

          • jimino

            Do you have proof that some government agency retaliated against him for supporting Romney, that there was quid pro quo?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Some advertising costs money, that is true.

          But that doesn’t mean that money is the same thing as speech.

    • sickofthechit

      He hasn’t spent anywhere near what the NRA spent. charles a. bowsher

      • fun bobby

        he is one person. the nra represents millons. in some cases he has spent more.

        • sickofthechit

          The nra does not represent millions. It represents corporations. It uses the millions as its tools. It’s all about money with the nra

          • fun bobby

            well over 3 million and rising people pay dues to the NRA. it uses the money to keep billionaires from stealing our liberty. Are you one of these people who is against gun ownership?

          • jefe68

            There is some evidence that 1 million of them are dead…

          • fun bobby

            care to provide it?

      • thequietkid10

        Isn’t that proof then, that a collection of like minded middle class Americans can out spend a plutocrat?

    • John_in_Amherst

      Bloomberg is right out front as the speaker. Who the hell funds the NRA, and why don’t THEY actually do the talking?

      • fun bobby

        I do and I talk about it all the time. Most NRA members are quite vocal. I pay so they can speak to those I cannot reach because I am not a billionaire and I do not have my own media conglomerate or political connections

        • John_in_Amherst

          great example of the need for campaign finance reform. Even with a large percentage of voters favoring reforms in firearm safety regulations, the will of the majority is repeatedly rebuffed by the spending by the NRA and the subsequent ability to sway electoral races. Just victory in your eyes, tyranny of the minority in other’s.

          • fun bobby

            “reforms in firearms safety regulations” that’s a funny way to phrase it. first of all there is there is no such majority of voters. secondly its never on the side of tyranny to stand for the bill of rights. you seem to have things backwards

          • John_in_Amherst

            irony, funbobby. (from wikipedia) :The phrase “tyranny of the majority” (or “tyranny of the masses”), used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, envisions a scenario
            in which decisions made by a majority place its interests so far above
            those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active
            oppression, comparable to that of tyrants and despots.[1]
            In many cases a disliked ethnic, religious or racial group is
            deliberately penalized by the majority element acting through the
            democratic process.

            the gun lobby represents the views of a small minority, yet succeeds in winning elections for pols. or not.

          • fun bobby

            the pedantry was unnecessary, I understood what you said I just disagree.
            most doctors agree with the AMA yet less than 5% are members. ditto with gun owners and the NRA. in America, there is roughly one gun for every American. its hard to find a good number for how many Americans own guns as its so political and that could be calculated a lot of different ways but it sure is a not a small minority and we do not want more gun control. What other organization is 1% of America a dues paying member of?

  • Emily311

    No misunderstanding here, just an appreciation that “speech” and bribery are not the same thing. There are libel laws- banning speech that causes harm (although not just physical harm), along with many other limits on free speech. If your only way to express yourself is with a big bag of cash, that is called bribery.

    Your viewpoint is sickening- try to silence the majority so the rich can own the government.

    • StilllHere

      Bribery? Now you’re alleging high crimes?
      Why do I get the feeling you would only be happy with a dictatorship, and you as the supreme leader?

      • John_in_Amherst

        FREEDOM TO SPEAK not FREEDOM TO SPEND!

        • notafeminista

          Right…it’s only my money. You should get to tell me what to do with it.

          • John_in_Amherst

            your reading skills need work

          • jefe68

            Grow up. And while you’re at try to join the human race.

  • Emily311

    Wow, talk about hyperbole! No need to get personal (considering you know nothing about me). Bribery and corruption are frequent concerns in politics. Numerous politicians have been convicted of related crimes. Rep. Hudson Hallum, State Senator Mike Morgan, Gov. Don Seigelman, and many, many more. I’d love to continue this conversation , but I have to get back to work.
    Have a great day!

  • Mattyster

    Why do Democrats want campaign finance limits even though they raise lots of money? Because they would rather not spend all their time raising money. They would rather see campaigns decided on the merits. Right now, not raising lots of money would be unilateral surrender to the other side.

    • notafeminista

      Well that’s nonsense – or we’d have President Romney right now. Unless you are conceding the IRS did affect the 2012 election by its actions.

      • Bill O’Brien

        Talk about nonsense. You’re inferring that raising lots of money doesn’t give a candidate an advantage just because the candidate who raised more money last time lost. Do you really not understand that there can be several factors influencing an outcome? “X smoked cigs and Y didn’t; but X lived longer. Thus, cigs are not unhealthy.” Make sense?

        • notafeminista

          Hum…guess all this nonsense about contributions ..is nonsense then eh?

          (edit added) If all these other factors exist in addition to the monies raised and/or contributed, then the money really isn’t that big a deal.

          • Bill O’Brien

            I refer you back to my cigarettes example. By your reasoning cigs would not be all that unhealthy because there are lots of other factors that affect longevity and health.

        • fun bobby

          Obama raised more money and he won as usual. in what modern election has someone won by spending less money?

          http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance

          • John Cedar

            The congressional Representative I voted for last year, spent wayyyy more money than the democrat and still lost.

          • fun bobby

            where was that?

            you agree that the presidential election always goes to the biggest spender right?

          • Bill O’Brien

            there’s $ spent by the candidates, $ spent by the parties, and $ spent by outside groups. I’m not sure what you are claiming or what significance you think it has.

          • fun bobby

            when you add all those things up Obama spent more and won. just another example of the guy who spends more winning. a link from the NYT is above

          • notafeminista

            Jerry Brown in the California gubernatorial – although I had no idea the disparity was so significant.

            http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/steve-lopez-meg-whitman-spent-50-for-each-vote-she-got-is-that-an-outrageous-extravagance.html

          • fun bobby

            not a national race but provides a great example of the power if incumbency and how repulsive meg whitman is

      • fun bobby

        but Obama raised and spent more money than Romney. so as usual the guy who spent the most won. we should have an auction instead.

  • Bruce94

    If the Court violates its precedent and strikes down limits
    on individual contributions, as the last caller pointed out, it will be seen by many as delivering yet another blow to the democratic principle of “one-man-one-vote.” Just as Geoge W. Bush will probably go down in history as the worst President for the economy since Herbert Hoover, this Supreme Court, largely shaped by Bush’s appointees,
    will probably go down in history as one of the worst courts since Dred Scott in its disregard for some of our most cherished principles of democracy.

    What do the following cases have in common: Citizens United v. FEC; Shelby County Alabama v. Holder, Atty. Gen. and now McCutcheon v. FEC? They all reflect the Far Right agenda advanced by a predominantly white, plutocratic political class to entrench and enlarge the power of corporations and wealthy individuals.

    This agenda could not be more evident than in the shutdown
    of the fed. govt. and threatened debt ceiling breach by a minority of nihilistic, Know Nothing nativists, laissez-faire, States’ rights libertarians and flat-earth, evangelical zealots in Congress (a.k.a. Tea Partiers).

    Their strategy not only entails bending the Constitution
    through the Supreme Court, but also undermining our Congressional rules by the perverse application of the filibuster, and using scientific gerrymandering as well as
    voter suppression laws in their states to ensure that their extortionist and obstructionist methods will go unpunished at the polls back in their home districts.

    • OnPointComments

      Q: What do the following cases have in common: Citizens United v. FEC; Shelby County Alabama v. Holder, Atty. Gen. and now McCutcheon v. FEC?

      A: Are they all Supreme Court cases that have (or will) become the law of the land, and that President Obama and his acolytes will choose to ignore since they believe they are above the law? I know that’s the case in Shelby County Alabama v. Holder, Atty. Gen., but I’m not sure about Citizens United v. FEC.

      • jimino

        Speaking of following the law and doing one’s job, when do you expect the House to take up the issue of a new coverage formula to replace the one struck down by the Court?

    • notafeminista

      If the Supreme Court didn’t occasionally “violate its precedent” Dred Scott would still be the law of the land and the 13th and 14th admendments would have been thrown out.

      • Jeff

        You misunderstand what the Supreme Court does, by definition they cannot throw out federal constitutional amendments…that’s actually what dictates their reasoning.

        • notafeminista

          Then I guess they were spot-on with Citizens United.

          • Shark2007

            So you are saying corporations are the same as people?

          • notafeminista

            Do you think corporations should act in the interest of social justice?

          • Shark2007

            It would be better if they did; however, too many believe anything that maximizes their profits constitutes social justice, whether it is dumping poisons into our air, water and land or exporting jobs to countries with slave wage conditions. So, you going to answer my question: Do you think corporations are the same as people? Or should be afforded the same rights as people?

      • Bruce94

        There’s such a thing as good precedent and bad precedent, no?

        • notafeminista

          Well I guess that’s relative now isn’t it

    • notafeminista

      Justice Alito was nominated by President GW Bush
      Chief Justice Roberts was nominated by President GW Bush
      Justice Sotomayor was nominated by President Obama
      Justice Kagan was nominated by President Obama.
      The other five justices were on the bench prior to President GW Bush.
      Just how exactly is this Court “largely shaped by Bush appointees”?

      • StilllHere

        Didn’t you know. Bush appointed Obama.

        • sickofthechit

          Don’t you mean the Supreme Court Appointed Bush? charles a. bowsher

          • harverdphd

            cut the crap…the new york times verified that Bush’s win

      • Bruce94

        You just proved my point. Two of the four most conservative justices currently serving were named by George W.–Alito (regarded as the second most conservative judge on the Court) and Roberts. The last time I checked, it’s still the “Roberts Court,” with a track record thanks largely to Roberts and Alito for being the most conservative, activist, and ideologically-driven Supreme Court in modern history epitomized by these two W. Bush appointees (esp. Alito) whose opinions have been anti-civil liberties, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s reproductive rights, and pro-business consistently upholding corporate power over the essentially powerless.

        • notafeminista

          Sounds like you’re implying the other two are wallflowers. My my.

  • OnPointComments

    In my opinion, the case before the Supreme Court is not as cataclysmic as some are making it out to be.

    Should federal law limit the number of different candidates that a person can support through financial contributions? For example, should federal law allow a person to financially support 18 different candidates in 18 different races, but not 19 different candidates in 19 different races? This is the issue being argued before the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC.

    A person can give $2,600 to 18 different candidates, and that’s okay; however, when he gives $2,600 to an additional 19th candidate, that last contribution is illegal because the aggregate limit of $48,600 for contributions to all candidates has been exceeded.

    I agree that the aggregate limitation in campaign law violates the donor’s right to support as many different candidates as he chooses.

    • fun bobby

      would this have limited Rupert Murdock from contributing so much to the Obama reelection campaign?

      • JGC

        Murdoch can’t wait to surreptiously contribute to the Hillary Clinton campaign 2016: good for business, you know.

    • sickofthechit

      It doesn’t limit the number of candidates you support. You could give $1,300 to 36 different candidates if you wanted to. charles a. bowsher

      • OnPointComments

        But I couldn’t give $1,300 to 37 different candidates. In essence, the law as it is now states that your right to free speech, as exercised through your campaign contributions to different candidates, ends at $48,600.

        • Steve__T

          Which is a good thing. Constantly changing how many candidates does not help your argument. The limit is 48,600 no mater how many you choose to support. Give it all to one or some to all.

          • OnPointComments

            The limit is $2,600 given by one individual to one individual candidate.

          • Steve__T

            Even better.

        • JGC

          So the limit is: we could give 1 dollar to 48,600 candidates, or 1 cent to 4,860,000 candidates…Is there any limit on the number of bitcoins we can donate to a campaign? I guess we have to assume they can use the bitcoins for the purposes of the campaigns, but without converting it into U.S. dollars at any point?

          I suppose most people are not interested in affecting the outcome of over 1000 elections or 48,600 elections, or beyond. Most politics stays local, or so was said by Tip O’Neill. But not for all people, of course. So who are those people, and what is their skin in the game? And how does that affect the local people who live day by day in that locality with their absentee landlords?

          • fun bobby

            Bloomberg. he pisses all sorts of people in NH off for no apparent reason but political retribution and his own narcissism

  • Adrian_from_RI

    Tom, have you ever asked yourself why so many people spend millions of dollars on politicians? Maybe people bribe politicians for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks, namely that is where the money is.

    Our Declaration of Independence stated that the only legitimate function of my government is to administer justice which consists of protecting my inalienable rights to my life, my liberty, and my property and to leave me alone to pursuit my own happiness. However, we have now degenerated into the kind of democracy that Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) warned us against, namely mob rule where everybody wants to live at the expense of everybody else. A contemporary, Frèdèrick Bastiat (1801-1850), wrote in his booklet “The Law” that the purpose of the law is to be an instrument of justice. However, the law has been turned into an instrument of plunder.

    Now elections have turned into a frenzy of plunder; an unseemly haggling to determine who will be at the table and who will be on the menu. Most politicians are now nothing more than mudfarmers and people try to bribe politician to either protect themselves from being the victim of plunder or to use the political system to partake in the plunder.

    However, the socialists have nothing to worry about. Despite all the money from the 1% it seems to me that President Obama got elected by the 47% plus 4%. Nevertheless, is it not about time we go back to a constitutional government that protects my and your Inalienable Rights? Why spend money on politicians if it would again be unconstitutional to take from some to give to others?

    By the way, how many of the 18 candidates sponsored by businessman McCutcheon got elected. None, if I remember right.

    • OnPointComments

      Shortly before Alexis de Tocqueville was John Adams.

      Paraphrasing John Adams, written in 1787:

      Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, all assembled together: most will not have lands, houses, or any personal property. If all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, those who have no property would usurp the rights of those who do.

      Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted.

      What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them.

      The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

      http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s15.html

      • jimino

        Remind us, oh sage political historian, who did those fellows buy their sacred property from? Is there any still available on the same terms?

      • Barbara Moore

        I think that “property” included slaves, didn’t it?

        • OnPointComments

          Yes, but it didn’t only include slaves.

    • ExcellentNews

      Very nice of you to quote the notables of history. But let’s extent this scientific approach a little bit further and examine the data.

      The data tells you that, throughout 99% of human history, the “rich” have been a hereditary institution, maintaining their wealth through exploitation of the “poor” and protection by a crony government. This is the basic fact of human nature. During the remaining 1% of time, a revolution occurs, where the “poor” plunder the “rich”, and a few of the formerly “poor” become the new “rich”. That too is a basic fact of human nature.

      It would seem that we are doomed by nature, were it not for the social democracy experiment after World War II. First in the US, a small number of leaders were able to institute a system where, through high taxes, wealth was recycled so that the “rich”/”poor” rift was decreased, and the “rich” could not establish their permanency. The system was exported to Western Europe following the US victory over the Nazis.

      This system has proven itself capable of generating unprecedented standard of living for a vast majority of citizens (and the rich have not done that shabbily either). Not surprisingly though, social democracy is under attack by the “rich” – after all, they can do much better relative to the rest in a plain old oligarchy, whether disguised as a “democracy” or otherwise.

      In a nutshell, de Tocqueville or John Adams words taken out of context do not apply. The American social democracy is being gutted by a small club of predatory bankers and job-exporting CEOs.

  • fun bobby

    apparently

  • jon meadow

    I have free speech, but if I call myself the n word, there are no ears that will listen. There is no free speech unless you are policically corrected, and then only if you are willing to buy into the DC type of government, which has nothong to do with the one enshrined in the Constitution.

  • JGC

    Aside: Is it my imagination, or is the Disqus format a shapeshifter? I was just getting used to the new method with the known upvote and anonymous downvote, and now we are back to a simple “like”. Also, there was a welcome change to a reply with an arrow, so that we didn’t have to confront situations when someone’s reply ends up being a single letter down the page.

    Whazzup, Disqus?

  • Jinshun Wang

    Haha, assuming that voters make intelligent decisions free from influences from the media. The difference in polls on opinions between “Affordable Care Act” and “Obamacare” name itself shows how much media spin and campaign ads can influence these supposedly well informed voters.

  • ExcellentNews

    The First Amendment was intended to prevent dissenters from being jailed by tyrants. It was not intended to allow billionaire oligarchs to purchase themselves a repeal of inheritance taxes, and a crony government that keeps the working peons in place.

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