Supreme Court OKs Corporate Donations to Election Campaigns
yesterday, the Supreme Court has said it is constitutional for corporations to spend
unlimited amounts of their own money to run ads and otherwise attempt to elect or defeat
candidates for public office. This decision reverses long-standing rules preventing
corporate money from being spent to directly influence elections.
As an example, as President Obama is beginning to
plans to curb the excesses of the biggest banks, the banks' lobbyists could go to specific members of Congress
and openly say: "Either you vote against his proposals or we are going to spend $10 million
to defeat you in November."
The decision is a great boon to Republicans, who are the natural allies of large
corporations. It also means candidates can run nasty and misleading ads and not be
accused of lying by having corporate friends (or friendly billionaires) pay for them.
Democrats in Congress are considering new laws to limit this new corporate power,
for example, by requiring shareholders to approve spending corporate money on political
ads but corporations will now be able to spend freely to oppose senators and representatives
supporting such laws.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), no stranger to controversy, called it the
since the Dred Scott case.
Fate of Health-Insurance Bill Uncertain
Progressive members of the House are
refusing to accept
the Senate health-insurance reform
bill as is. So what happens next? There seem to be two possibilities. One is for a deal
in which a package of changes jointly approved by the House and Senate would be passed by
the Senate using budget reconciliation (which cannot be filibustered) and then the House
would pass both the Senate bill and the package of changes. A second
would be to pass a much smaller bill, covering fewer people and with smaller subsidies.
However, progressive Democrats in the House who won't vote for the Senate bill are unlikely
to vote for an even more watered down bill. At this point, Congressional Democrats are
huddling frantically about what to do next.
Postmortems on the Massachusetts Senate Election Abound
Numerous pundits, columnists, bloggers, and the like have given their take on the consequences of Scott Brown's
win in Massachusetts. Here is a list.
When debating the issue of whether the Democrats can get anything done with only 59 seats in the Senate, it may be useful
to recall that Republicans have often passed legislation when they were in the majority even though the last time they had
59 seats was in 1923. Here is our list of take aways from the election.
- Politicians can't take the voters for granted. Massachusetts voters' elected Republican governors continuously from 1991 to
2007. Red Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wyoming all have Democratic governors.
Blue Connecticut, Hawaii, and Rhode Island all have Republican governors.
red Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota, have Democratic senators.
Blue Maine and New Hampshire have Republican senators. Here is a
of partisan misfits like these.
- To win, you have to campaign. Coakley, who has the charm of Mitch McConnell, didn't bother to campaign. She even took a
vacation in the middle of the campaign. In contrast, Brown put 200,000 miles on his truck going out and meeting voters.
He showed he cared about them. She didn't.
- One win or loss is not the end of the world. It wasn't that long ago that Republicans were bemoaning the loss
of NY-23, a district they had held since the Civil War. Local
circumstances matter. In Massachusetts, for example, voters didn't feel the need for universal health care so acutely
since they already have it statewide.
- Candidates have to match their electorate. Among voters who thought Scott Brown was a moderate or liberal, he
79-18. Among voters who thought he was a conservative, he lost 32-63. This was not a vote for the Repubican Party
but for Scott Brown. Jim DeMint could not have won there.
- Voters are impatient. The health-insurance battle in Congress has taken an entire year. That is much too long.
After an election, the voters expect the winner to act decisively and get things done. Endless intraparty squabbling
is not a ticket to success.
In roughly a week, Brown will be sworn into the Senate. Then the hard part begins for him. He is going to have to
vote on many controversial bills on which the majority of his constituents and the Republican senatorial caucus are on
opposite sides. If he votes with the caucus, he will anger many voters and face an uphill battle against a far better
prepared Democratic candidate in 2012. If he votes with the Democrats, he will be primaried in 2012. Don't count on
Brown being around for a long time.
Another Bush Supports Rubio
Another example of a race where the person expected to coast to an easy victory may have some tough sledding ahead is
the Florida Republican senatorial primary. Initially, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) was expected to win by just showing up.
No more. Not only has his lead against former state House minority leader Marco Rubio vanished, but
Rubio keeps picking up mainstream endorsements. Yesterday he was
by George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Lincoln Down, Beebe Up in Arkansas
Both Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR) are up for reelection in November but their respective
couldn't be further apart. Her favorable/unfavorables are 34%/57% while his are 76%/14%. With polls showing her
losing to almost any Republican, some Democrats are hoping she will pull a Dodd and retire and be replaced by Beebe, who would
surely hold the seat for the Democrats.
Illinois Primary is Next
With the Massachusetts special election behind us, the next course on the menu for political junkies is the Illinois
primary on Feb. 2. Two Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes are vying to be the gubernatorial candidate
against the winner of a seven-way Republican primary. Given the state's financial mess, with a need to raise taxes,
cut spending, or both (neither terribly popular), it is surprising anyone would even want the job.
Quinn is the favorite in both the primary and general election, but as we saw in Massachusetts, you shouldn't count
your chickens too early.
Battles loom for both parties in the Senate race as well. The main Democrats are Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias
and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Cheryle Jackson. Giannoulias is the favorite in the primary. Rep. Mark Kirk is the
leading Republican. More here.
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