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Money Talks
Author: BobR    Date: 03/23/2012 12:57:57

There's an old saying that "money makes the world go 'round". While this certainly seems like it was coined by a Republican (LOL), money is certainly the grease that lubricates the cogs of the economy. It is also a large factor in determining who can and does run for public office, as well as who eventually wins (and then keeps their) seats in government. There have been numerous attempts to reign in spending via legislative action, but - as expected - the monied continuously fight these in court lest they lose their influence.

They got their biggest victory in January 2010 with the Supreme Court verdict in Citizens United. In that case, they nullified campaign finance laws, ruling them unconstitutional, and paved the way for Super PACs. The majority opinion was that money equaled free speech. It's hard to imagine that the founding fathers considered money as speech when they were framing the Constitution.

The main problem with this argument of course is that it tosses the idea of "one man, one voice" on its head. Those with huge sums of money at their disposal are able to shout with tremendously amplified voices across the great spanse of our continent, while most people can only whisper. It creates a huge inequality in speech that the legislation had attempted to balance (not to mention removing corrupting influences).

Where before every campaign had a PAC tied to it for raising funds and advocacy, a new beast arose from this court decision: the Super PAC. Super PACs are - by law (or more accurately the SCOTUS decision) - separate entities from the campaigns, unable to legally work directly with them. They are, however, able to hide their donors and able to create any ads they want to. They can spew lies, slander, smear, and create unending videos with ominous voices intoning warnings over grainy footage, and the campaigns can maintain plausible deniability.

That genie is out of the bag, and there's little that can realistically be done to tamp that back down. There are still laws in place regarding "traditional" campaign funding, though, and those can be reinforced and enforced more vigorously. Consider disgraced former Senator (and presidential candidate) John Edwards who is going on trial in a few weeks for supposedly using campaign funds for non-campaign purposes. What exactly constitutes "valid campaign expenses" seems to be one of those gray areas. Campaigns regularly pay themselves, family members, and friends for expenses that seem only tangentially related to the campaign. Perennial candidate Ron Paul is one of the worst (CREW has a complete report). The US Senate is trying to at least give people more information with the DISCLOSE Act. It failed last session by one vote. They have stripped out some of the more contentious parts, and are poised to try again.

But back to the original premise: Funding tends to be one of the main reasons candidates drop out of races. If they have a poor showing in an early primary, their funds dry up and they are forced to withdraw. We've seen it happen numerous times this season, and it may be Newt Gingrich next, as his campaign goes into debt. While it stands to reason that electibility is somewhat related to how much money a campaign can raise by inspiring supporters to "speak" with their wallets, a candidate having a supporter with a very loud "voice" can stay afloat longer than one with a lot more popular support from those with quieter "voices". Thus, the inequality.

The solution to this is to eliminate private funding of campaigns, and provide candidates with equitable funding from the government. This will level the playing field, allowing more candidates more time to connect with their supporters. It would also force candidates to be smart and careful about how they spent their campaign funds.

Enacting this at the federal level is like turning around a cargo ship on the ocean - it is slow going. Some states have attempted to move in this direction ahead of a federal charter. One of those - Arizona (of all states) - passed a public campaign finance law to address the imbalance. Part of the law was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, but other parts remained in place. A challenge to those remainders has been tossed by a state judge, which is temporary good news.

The only real solution to get around the constitutionality issue is to amend the Constitution. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is proposing a joint resolution to do just that. It essentially will give the Congress power to enact laws governing campaign financing. This is not the same as a constitutional amendment to define personhood or what constitutes free speech, nor to define that campaigns can only be funded via the government. It simply states that the US Congress and the States have the ability to regulate campaign finances for their respective election domains. Yes, this means that campaign finance laws could change over time, but at least they could not be discarded as unconstitutional by the courts.

And that is a step in the right direction to returning to one man, one voice.

22 comments (Latest Comment: 03/23/2012 20:31:37 by Raine)
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Comment by wickedpam on 03/23/2012 13:11:00
Morning

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 13:34:21
good morning!

Comment by BobR on 03/23/2012 13:50:47
Morning all

Remainder of the blog has been posted.

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 14:06:46
Excellent post, bobber. Interesting about Ron Paul. Much of his family was also on the staff of the newsletters he says he played no part in.

Comment by Scoopster on 03/23/2012 14:51:44
Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 14:54:27
Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 15:02:19
I find it interesting that Mr Self-Reliant Liberatian uses his campaign as an employment program for his family.

Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 15:04:09



As opposed to your normal level of disgust with Geraldo?

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 15:14:19
Quote by Mondobubba:



As opposed to your normal level of disgust with Geraldo?
Usually he doesn't bother me that much. He's annoying, but he mostly benign.


Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 15:22:05
I am however, proud of our President:

OBAMA: It is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this. … But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and get to the bottom of exactly what happened.


Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 15:24:12
Quote by Raine:
I am however, proud of our President:

OBAMA: It is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this. … But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and get to the bottom of exactly what happened.


Cur the Rightwingers:


The President is a racist!!! He says that ALL Black people look the same!!!! Oh Noes!!!111


Anyone wanna place a bet on this one?

Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 15:24:55
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Mondobubba:



As opposed to your normal level of disgust with Geraldo?
Usually he doesn't bother me that much. He's annoying, but he mostly benign.



I've found him to be a leperous leasion on the body of American media discourse.

Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 15:25:31
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
I am however, proud of our President:

OBAMA: It is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this. … But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and get to the bottom of exactly what happened.


Cur the Rightwingers:


The President is a racist!!! He says that ALL Black people look the same!!!! Oh Noes!!!111


Anyone wanna place a bet on this one?



That is a sucker bet, Hon.

Comment by livingonli on 03/23/2012 16:24:09
Good day everyone. At least the good thing will be that starting Monday when I get up, I can just turn on the TV to watch Momma instead of stumbling to the internet to find a station running the show or firing the SiriusXM App on my phone. I caught the tail end of the show but my desktop got weird loading up. At least I got to my laptop once the cat got off the bed.

Comment by wickedpam on 03/23/2012 16:25:20
Quote by livingonli:
Good day everyone. At least the good thing will be that starting Monday when I get up, I can just turn on the TV to watch Momma instead of stumbling to the internet to find a station running the show or firing the SiriusXM App on my phone. I caught the tail end of the show but my desktop got weird loading up. At least I got to my laptop once the cat got off the bed.



yay

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 17:58:54
From now on, when people ask What does it matter if Trayvon was Black? The stand your ground law... yadda tadda apologist BS,

Ask them Why Zimmerman when they give you the typical BS...

As them about Trevor Dooley....

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 18:29:58
Comment by wickedpam on 03/23/2012 18:33:52
Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 19:22:53




I love this on so many levels.


Comment by Mondobubba on 03/23/2012 19:32:46
Quote by Raine:
From now on, when people ask What does it matter if Trayvon was Black? The stand your ground law... yadda tadda apologist BS,

Ask them Why Zimmerman when they give you the typical BS...

As them about Trevor Dooley....



:places soap box in the Speaker's Corner of the blog: This is what terms limits gets you, Florida. It alows well funded lobbying groups to write legislation that with more seasoned senators and represenatives would not have flown through Tally as easily as this turkey did when it was passed seven years ago (Yes, I know turkeys can't fly). This is why I think you are seeing more and more legislation being written by outside groups, there are cadres of legislators who don't care because they are being term limited out of off, or novice state legislators who don't have any experience at marking and writing bills who are willing to submit pre-written acts to the various state houses across the country.

Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 20:24:30
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by Raine:
From now on, when people ask What does it matter if Trayvon was Black? The stand your ground law... yadda tadda apologist BS,

Ask them Why Zimmerman when they give you the typical BS...

As them about Trevor Dooley....



:places soap box in the Speaker's Corner of the blog: This is what terms limits gets you, Florida. It alows well funded lobbying groups to write legislation that with more seasoned senators and represenatives would not have flown through Tally as easily as this turkey did when it was passed seven years ago (Yes, I know turkeys can't fly). This is why I think you are seeing more and more legislation being written by outside groups, there are cadres of legislators who don't care because they are being term limited out of off, or novice state legislators who don't have any experience at marking and writing bills who are willing to submit pre-written acts to the various state houses across the country.
I think this might be the bast case against term limits I have yet to encounter.




Comment by Raine on 03/23/2012 20:31:37
I want to know why We haven't seen a CURRENT photo of Zimmerman.

And now we have confirmation that not only was he a failed cop, he wasn't even acting as a nieghborhood watch captain at the time...

"Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his weapon when this incident occurred," Lee said recently. "He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the Sanford Police Department."

Lee added that Zimmerman had a permit for the weapon.
But wait, there is MORE.
"The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting, are false and extremely misleading," his father, a retired magistrate judge, wrote in a letter published in the Orlando Sentinel. "Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas."


Must be nice.

I guess Trevor Dooley didn't have a relation that was a retired judge?????