Tags: Say | 'No' | Shays-Meehan

Say 'No' to Shays-Meehan

Monday, 18 February 2002 12:00 AM

I have discovered that there is a surefire test that lets Republicans know if legislation is good or bad for them.

All they need to ask is this: Are the Democrats and the establishment media pushing for the new legislation?

Clearly this is the case for so-called campaign finance reform.

This is why the liberals have been applauding and championing Republicans like John McCain who have been advocating campaign finance reform.

It is also why the press has made such a story of Enron.

Enron is certainly a major story, but the media spin about its collapse is easily apparent: Campaign finance reform is urgently needed to end influence peddling.

Like most Americans, I want to see campaign finance reform end the sellout of Congress to high-paying lobbyists and special interests.

As former Congressman Dan Frisa wrote on NewsMax, under the new Shays-Meehan bill "every single dollar in contributions from Enron or Global Crossing to members of the House or Senate would still be legal."

The new legislation limits so-called soft money donations to the political parties and prevents independent committees from spending on behalf of a candidate for two months before an election.

The argument that Shays-Meehan will limit corporations and special interests is not demonstrated by the facts.

What is absolutely clear is the damage this will do to the Republican Party. We all know the Republican Party has long been anathema for the major media.

Remember, the Roper study found that 89 percent of the Washington press corps voted for Bill Clinton. This group is not fair or representative.

By limiting soft money and banning independent committee ads before an election, the media – people like Dan Rather and Peter Jennings and company – will have the unique ability to shape the final run-up of the campaign season, when voters make up their minds and go to the polls.

No wonder the Democrats are willing to accept these restrictions. They know what the upside is for them.

They know the media will work overtime for them.

They also know that "reform" will leave untouched their ace in the hole – labor unions.

Shays-Meehan creates no restrictions on union political expenditures or activities before an election.

Increasingly, unions, particularly those of government employees, have become powerful forces in elections.

As party machines have withered, unions have provided the organization and troops to help in the "get out the vote” efforts on Election Day.

The close 2000 election showed just how dangerous the unions can be as a political force.

The lessons of 2000, the growing influence of unions and the power of liberal media bias should be abundantly clear to George Bush and his top aides.

Columnist Robert Novak reports, however, that the Bush White House is strangely indifferent to Republican worries about Shays-Meehan.

Novak says the GOP leadership, led by Dennis Hastert, went into meltdown last week as more than 40 Republicans defected to vote for the Democrat-supported bill.

Novak writes, "The signal from the White House that the president would sign any campaign finance bill meant no negotiating hand for Republicans, much less a basis for opposition."

The White House sources have indicated the president will sign the bill because it makes him look good. Meanwhile, the White House has little doubt the legislation will be struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

This is a risky strategy, one that may backfire in the short run and set the precedent for even more dangerous legislation in the future.

The president and the Republicans need to speak honestly with the American people and explain how one-sided Shays-Meehan is.

The Republicans also need some innovative proposals for reform of their own.

Conservative strategist David Horowitz has suggested new legislation that would ban government unions from engaging in any and all political activity – a "Hatch" act for unions that directly benefit from government largesse.

At the same time, corporations, particularly those in the defense business, should be banned from donating and from political activity. This would be an example of fair and balanced reform.

Until such legislation is moved by Congress, the Senate should reject the current campaign finance proposal. And so should the president.

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I have discovered that there is a surefire test that lets Republicans know if legislation is good or bad for them. All they need to ask is this: Are the Democrats and the establishment media pushing for the new legislation? Clearly this is the case for so-called campaign...
Say,'No',Shays-Meehan
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2002-00-18
Monday, 18 February 2002 12:00 AM
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