Monday, October 7, 2013

Corporate America wants even more freedom to buy elections

An upcoming Supreme Court case could make it a lot easier for anti-worker billionaires to buy elections -- not that it's exactly difficult for them to do so already.

It seems the 2010 Citizens United decision declaring money is speech and flooding our democracy with corporate cash just isn't enough. McCutcheon v. FEC could allow the super-rich to pour millions of dollars directly into the campaign coffers of their preferred candidates.

The Huffington Post explains: 
An Alabama millionaire named Shaun McCutcheon is challenging a long-standing law on how much money individual donors can give directly to candidates and party committees. If Mr. McCutcheon wins his case, a single wealthy individual could give a total of more than $2.4 million to his or her favorite candidates, and another million-plus dollars to the party committee of their choice - for a total of 3.5 million dollars.
Mr. McCutcheon claims money is speech and that any legislative measure which hinders his dollar offends "liberty." But irrespective of the patriotic rhetoric, what McCutcheon is really suing for is the right to buy elections. Because 93 percent of the time, the candidate who raises the most money, wins.
Call it Citizens United II. Except this time corporations and billionaires want even more freedom to rig elections, Wall Street-style.

According to Constitution Daily:
In 2010, the Supreme Court delivered its controversial 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which set the stage for enormous sums of money to be spent in elections through super PACs and other independent entities.
On Tuesday, October 8—less than three years after deciding Citizens United—the Supreme Court will hear arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case which has the potential to flood millions of dollars more into United States elections—and this time, directly into the coffers of candidates for elected office.
This graphic from the Center for Responsive Politics shows what's at stake in the McCutcheon case. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of McCutcheon, it would have a multiplying effect on the impact of wealthy donors:
One of the first things that would surely happen without overall limits would be a wave of newly created PACs focused on specific candidates' campaigns, which would allow donors to give $5,000 to any number of committees that would then give the money directly to the candidates.   
In 2012, 78 percent of election spending was attributed to the massive influx of outside money that Citizens United injected into the political process. That's $933 million more in political spending.

And in states like Wisconsin, campaign spending has tripled since Citizens United. The recall election against union-busting Gov. Scott Walker was the most expensive election in Wisconsin's history, with Walker raising over $30.5 million -- seven times more than his opponent.

McCutcheon v. FEC threatens to accelerate the damage that Citizens United has already done to our democracy. While arguments in the case will be heard tomorrow in front of the Supreme Court, hundreds of workers, labor activists and others will be outside the Court rallying against big money in politics

As a wealthy GOP backer, McCutcheon argues that limiting individuals' campaign donations is a restriction on their free speech. But for most people, the biggest limitation on their campaign contributions is their wallets. It's too bad then that McCutcheon isn't trying to overturn economic inequality instead of campaign finance restrictions.

Citizens United and McCutcheon are leading a national conspiracy to make corporations into people in the eyes of the law. Of course, if corporations are "people," then real people like us are made to be less than people in our political system.