NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY


  June 6, 2014

Senate Debates Constitutional Amendment to Rein In Outside Cash


Though Democrats and Republicans are split down party lines on whether to add a constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending, both parties ignore 50 percent of Americans in favor of public financing
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



I support The Real News Network because it is one of the few remaining political voices of the people. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


biography

Jessica Desvarieux is a multimedia journalist who serves as the Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network. Most recently, Jessica worked as a producer for the ABC Sunday morning program, This Week with Christianne Amanpour. Before moving to Washington DC, Jessica served as the Haiti corespondent for TIME Magazine and TIME.com. Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 - September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work appeared in various media outlets like the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the International Herald Tribune - Daily News Egypt. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a Master of Science degree in journalism. She is proficient in French, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and has a working knowledge of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Follow her @Jessica_Reports.


transcript

Senate Debates Constitutional Amendment to Rein In Outside CashJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: The Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment which would grant Congress the authority to regulate the campaign financing system.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which ruled that corporate campaign contributions are a form of free speech, opened up the floodgates for unlimited and untraceable campaign cash.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): The decisions of the Supreme Court have the American people with a status quo in which one side's billionaires are pitted against the other side's billionaires. So we sit here today with a simple choice. We can keep the status quo and argue all day and all night, weekends, forever, about whose billionaires are right and whose billionaires are wrong. Or we can work together to change the system to get this shady money out of our democracy and restore the basic principles of one American, one vote.

DESVARIEUX: In April, the Supreme Court loosened campaign finance regulations even further in its ruling on the FEC v. McCutcheon case. It did away with aggregate limits on contributions to candidates, political parties, and political action committees. The previous limit was $123,000 during a two-year period. As with the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that campaign contributions are a form of free speech. Republican senator from iowa Chuck Grassley agrees.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Free speech creates a marketplace of ideas in which citizens can learn, debate, and persuade fellow citizens on the issues the day. At its core, it enables the citizenry to be educated, to cast votes, to elect their leaders. Today, freedom of speech is threatened as it has not been in many decades.

DESVARIEUX: With the Supreme Court equating campaign donations as constitutionally protected free speech, some proponents of campaign finance reform see an amendment to the Constitution as the best way to rein in the influence of the super-rich on electoral politics.

But what would the consitutional amendment proposed by Democratic New Mexican senator Tom Udall actually do? It would give Congress and states the ability to regulate campaign financing at their respective levels and have authority over groups like super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, and individuals.

Democratic Illinois senator Dick Durbin cosponsored the legislation.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): In 2012, super PACs spent more than $130 million on federal elections. Sixty percent of all super PAC donations that year came from an elite class of 159 americans. One hundred and fifty-nine Americans accounted for 60 percent of the money from super PACs going into these election campaigns. In North Carolina, that elite group had one member. Seventy-two percent of all outside spending in 2010 came from a millionaire named Art Pope. Can you guess who Governor Patt McCory named as North Carolina's budget chief writer in 2013? Mr. Pope, who bankrolled the governor's campaign and supported the Republican super majority that recently enacted the most restrictive voter suppression law in America.

Mr. Chairman, we need to do this to save the political process in America.

DESVARIEUX: America is strongly in favor of more campaign finance regulation, according to a Gallup poll conducted last year. It found that 79 percent of Americans--four out of five--favor imposing limits on the amount raised and spent in campaigns. Half of them support public financing, a term that was never brought up by either Democrats or Republicans as an option.

Paul Jorgenson is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas-Pan American.

PAUL JORGENSON, ASSIST. PROF. POLITICAL SCIENCE, UTPA: What public financing does is it takes away the perverse incentive for Congress or any legislative body or an executive to respond to the interest of donors. So political parties need money, and they're going to cater to the policy preferences of those who have most of the money.

You could do something like what used to work and no longer does, which is the presidential check-off system on your taxes. So you would check off $3 to go to the presidential general election campaign fund or have a matching fund system in the primaries. And reformers have experimented with different kinds of words to describe these systems, such as voucher or rebate. But more or less it would be funded through general taxes.

DESVARIEUX: Jorgenson adds that the reason Democrats and Republicans have not advocated for public financing is because they both gain from the current system.

JORGENSON: And it's a system that they know very well and they operate in. And given the high encumbency rate, it's a game they know how to play. So any new system, any new reform creates a [level of?] unknown that would make politicians rather wary.

DESVARIEUX: Although public financing was not centerstage, another bill before Congress was introduced by Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz. It would eliminate campaign contribution limits altogether for individual donors.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What this bill will do is, number one, eliminate campaign limits on individual contributions to federal candidates. Right now the current system we have is stupid. You've got super PACs spending on the side out of the control of campaigns, and it's grown because Congress has attempted to regulate in silent speech.

The bill I've introduced would eliminate individual contribution limits and provide immediate disclosure within 24 hours.

DESVARIEUX: In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, American University professor Jamie Raskin warned against the further loosening of regulations.

PROF. JAMIE RASKIN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW: The case has nothing to do with increasing free speech of the people and everything to do with increasing the power of the CEOs over the people. If we do nothing now, pretty soon the people will no longer govern the corporations; the corporations will govern the people.

DESVARIEUX: But without a date set for a vote on the constitutional amendment, and the November elections on the horizon, corporations and wealthy individuals will soon have an opportunity to excercise their newly determined free speech guarantees in ways the U.S. electoral system has never seen before.

For FSRN and The Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Growing Labor Protests Paralyzing France
Refugees Dehumanized, Impoverished, and Trapped in Europe: What can we do about it?
Clinton's Candidacy Will Unite the Corporate World
Rising Up Against Empire: Jeremy Scahill and the Easter Uprising
Tapes Reveal Coup Plot Against Rousseff, Weakening Temer Government
Koch Funded Free Market Universities in Arizona
'We've Become Accustomed to the System Doing Nothing for the Killing of Black People'
IMF-Eurozone Deal Hailed as a Breakthrough, But No Relief for Greeks
Why Austrians Nearly Elected a Far Right Candidate as President
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (2/2)
Democratic Nomination Battle is Not Over Yet
Will Sanders Appointees Shake Up the Convention?
'The Law Has Always Been in the Favor of Law Enforcement'
Officer Edward Nero Found Not Guilty of All Charges Over Death of Freddie Gray
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (1/2)
Bernie Sanders and the Widening Political Spectrum
Austria Narrowly Elects Former Green Party Leader as President, Avoids Far-Right Candidate
The Empire Files: 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats
By Ignoring Fossil Fuel Extraction, the Paris Agreement is Doomed to Failure
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (3/3)
Erdogan Targeting the 59 Pro-Kurdish HDP Parliamentarians with 445 Police Investigations
Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Pushing Africa to the Brink
The Financial Invasion of Greece
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (2/3)
Judge to Hand Down First Verdict in Freddie Gray Case on Monday
Move to Amend and the Fight to Remove Corporate Money From U.S. Elections
Baltimore Activists Defend Tubman House Against Threats of Demolition
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (1/3)
Ultra-Nationalist Avigdor Lieberman Accepts Post as Defense Minister of Israel
Sanders and Class Struggle in the Democratic Party

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting