Tags: US | Obama | Campaign | Finance

Obama Blasts Court Decision On Campaign Finance

Thursday, 21 Jan 2010 08:32 PM

By David A. Patten

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After steadily bashing greedy Wall Street firms, evil insurance companies, polluting energy firms, and profligate auto executives, President Obama on Thursday blasted a Supreme Court ruling that empowers those same companies to fight back against his big-government agenda.

Obama said a Supreme Court ruling that McCain-Feingold campaign-finance restrictions are unconstitutional will lead to a "stampede of special interest money in our politics."

The president added: "It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

Ironically, all three industries he mentioned – oil, banks, insurance companies – are among those that he has routinely castigated for their refusal to kowtow to his "hope and change" agenda.

The Supreme Court ruling, following hard on the heels of Scott Brown's stunning upset win in Massachusetts, is expected to put Democrats in an even more precarious position in the mid-term elections.

"I think this is ideological for the president," Brian Darling, director of Senate relations at the Heritage Foundation, tells Newsmax. "I think he and the left are intent on taking away the voice of corporate America.

"They feel like if they can take away the voice of corporate America, it's much more easy to regulate, and to tax them out of existence. They don't like allowing a corporate voice during these elections. Left-leaning politicians are naturally are more hostile to business interests," Darling adds. "And they're fearful these business interests will take it out on them when they're deciding to run ads."

One of the big winners in the ruling, for example, is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a prime target of the administration's wrath over healthcare reform this past fall.

When the chamber began running ads opposing Obamacare, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett went so far as to suggest the Chamber really didn't represent the business community anymore.

Chamber officials saw the attacks as part of a broader intimidation campaign.
“It’s happening with the deliberate hope and intention to weaken the influence of this institute and the business community in town,” R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the chamber, told Politico in October. “When they launch a frontal assault against free enterprise and the Chamber of Commerce, I can guarantee it is not lost on any trade association executives or staff in this town.”

Now there will be few restrictions, other than routine reporting, on corporations willing to toss their brands into the political ring.
Prior to the ruling, corporations and unions could not run ads either supporting or criticizing a specific candidate. They could produce and air commercials that, ostensibly at least, promoted issues rather than candidates. And companies have been able to support specific candidates by donating to political action committees.

The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC was divided along straight conservative and liberal lines. While unions will be equally liberated to spend whatever they want on their preferred slate of candidates, most pundits see it as a clear advantage for the GOP — if only because corporations have much deeper pockets than the unions.

Democrats generally criticized the ruling, while most Republicans lauded it as a protection of the right to free speech.

Conservative direct marketing icon Richard Viguerie, for example, said the ruling "means that the anti-incumbent furor that has been growing is partly released from the shackles created by 'incumbent protection' election and campaign finance laws."

As that statement suggests, the ruling is likely to add more fuel to the burgeoning grass-roots conservative movement.

"Many of our tea party members are business owners," Everett Wilkinson, a Tea Party Patriots leader, tells Newsmax. "This will let them get involved easier in the process … [it will be] much easier to operate."

In his statement Thursday, Obama promised to work with Congress to come up with a "forceful response" to the high court's ruling.

Darling dismissed, however, the notion that congressional legislation could be used to circumvent the ruling.

"If McCain-Feingold's provisions related to corporate spending are unconstitutional, anything Congress does on that issue is presumably unconstitutional," Darling said. "So for [President Obama] to call on Congress to do anything short of a Constitutional amendment is an empty threat."

The ultimate significance of Thursday's Supreme Court decision, Fox News commentator and bestselling author Dick Morris tells Newsmax, could partisanship. It will actually help preserve the First Amendment rights of all Americans, he says.

"It's a huge ruling," Morris tells Newsmax. "First of all, apart from its partisan implications, it's really a victory for free speech. To say that a union or a corporation cannot say what it wants, can't speak in public about its ideas, it's outrageous.

"I think politically what it means is that both parties are going to gain. Labor unions will spend money for the Democrats and corporations will spend money for both Republicans and Democrats. But I think the main effect of it is to really free the political arena of this kind of draconian restrictions which really is a censuring of free speech. So I don't see it so much in partisan terms. I see it in terms of freedom," he said.







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