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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 22, 2010

SUPREME COURT CAMPAIGN FINANCE RULING

Andrew Cohen, Vanity Fair - The ruling doesn’t just diminish the already diminished McCain-Feingold law. It vitiates dozens of state laws around the country that had nobly if naively cropped up to try to keep more money out of politics. This fall, during the mid-term election campaign, we will be more inundated than ever with attack/advocacy ads aimed at swaying undecided, uneducated, or just plain lazy voters. And the candidates themselves will be hard-pressed to have their own messages heard above the din-now that even more corporate and union money will be flowing into the process.

Senator Russell Feingold - Corporations have huge war chests that far exceed current spending in our political system. During the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 500 companies alone had profits of $743 billion. By comparison, spending by candidates, outside groups, and political parties on the last presidential election totaled just over $2 billion. That is a lot of money, but it’s nothing compared to what corporations and unions have in their treasuries.

The Supreme Court has now allowed unlimited corporate spending on campaigns. That means, for example, that Wall Street banks and firms, having just taken our country into its worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, could spend millions upon millions of dollars on ads directly advocating the defeat of those candidates who want to prevent future economic disaster by imposing new financial services regulations.

NY Times - Two leading Democrats, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, said that they had been working for months to draft legislation in response to the anticipated decision.

One possibility would be to ban political advertising by corporations that hire lobbyists, receive government money, or collect most of their revenue abroad.

Another would be to tighten rules against coordination between campaigns and outside groups so that, for example, they could not hire the same advertising firms or consultants.

A third would be to require shareholder approval of political expenditures, or even to force chief executives to appear as sponsors of commercials their companies pay for.

Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation aimed at the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced:

1) The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act: Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

2) The Public Company Responsibility Act: Prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.

3) The End Political Kickbacks Act: Prevents for-profit corporations that receive money from the government from making political contributions, and limits the amount that employees of those companies can contribute.

4) The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act: Requires publicly-traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than to promoting their products and services.

5) The Ending Corporate Collusion Act: Applies antitrust law to industry PACs.


8 Comments:

Anonymous You can't scare me; I'm stickin' to the union. said...

It is a farce and fraud that when anyone talks about this ruling by the prostitutes at the supremely corrupt court, they lump unions into the group of mobsters behind this ruling, i.e., the corporations. Corporations are formed for the express purpose of avoiding personal responsibility for one's business actions. We need a constitutional amendment disbanding them in the US. When did a union ever succeed in bribing congress to pass a law? We live in a completely morally and financially bankrupt society and we have corporations to thank for it.

January 22, 2010 4:08 PM  
Anonymous one said...

Greed, Be Thou My God
How Wall Street Destroyed Health Care
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
At my annual check-up, my doctor handed me a sheet explaining the reasons for office fee increases for Medicare Patients. It is worth reporting at length.
Medicare fixes the prices for Medicare patients’ health care. All office charges for Medicare, including office visit charges, have been set by the Federal government since 1984. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), these fixed prices are less today than they were three decades ago.
During the last four years, there have been large decreases in Medicare reimbursements for laboratory services provided in-house by private physicians. Payments for in-office blood work, for example, have been cut 35 to 47 per cent. Yet, a physician’s overhead continues to increase as a result of uncontrollable costs, such as property taxes, building insurance, electricity, maintenance, malpractice and workers compensation insurance.
As one result, my doctor had to close both the x-ray unit and the state and federally licensed medical laboratory on his premises. Now patients are inconvenienced by having to go to other locations for services that formerly were provided by the doctor at lower cost. A one day medical check-up is now a multiple day event and more expensive.
While Medicare payments to doctors have been cut, regulations have been increasing: “Almost every outside diagnostic procedure (CT, MRI scan, sonogram) ordered by this office now has to be pre-approved by some outside agency. Many medications are now requiring pre-approval or step therapy. Each requires filling out 1-2 pages of forms and/or two or more phone calls. This requires personnel time and therefore more cost. Consultant referrals are requiring more paperwork and time to schedule.”
My doctor has more people employed doing paperwork than he does delivering health care.
While Medicare payments for in-office services to private doctors, including those for blood work and x-ray units, were drastically cut, payments to outside corporate facilities for the same services were increased. It is obvious what is afoot. Corporate lobbies are using their whores in Congress to shift income from physician offices to corporate labs, corporate medical service providers, and hospitals that are owned by national corporations.
Legislation that cuts payments to private physicians and increases the payments to large corporate entities is intended to destroy private practice and to create in its place corporate bureaucracies in which doctors are wage slaves. The physician’s

January 22, 2010 4:19 PM  
Anonymous two said...

income is diverted to shareholders, CEO bonuses, and Wall Street. Health care is being replaced with health business.
As a result of the way American medicine is being reconstructed, patients will cease to have a doctor whom they know and who knows them. Important information is lost in a system of bureaucratized “health care” in which a patient sees whatever face happens to be on duty at the corporate provider. Impersonal health care thus brings a cost of its own, and its quality can be low compared to private practice. Indeed, the U.S. is creating a “health care” system that is more costly and less efficient than single-payer national health systems. But it will enrich corporations and provide play for Wall Street.
It turns one’s stomach to watch libertarians and “free market economists” defend bureaucratized impersonal health care as “free market medicine.” There is no free market present. Corporate lobbies and campaign contributions use government power to create bureaucratized monopolies that destroy medicine for the practitioner and the patient. Wall Street pushes for greater shareholder earnings, which are achieved by denying care.
Just as independent businesses have been destroyed by corporate chains from Wal-Mart to auto parts to fast food, medicine is being destroyed by monopoly capital. The risks of starting a private business today are many times higher than they were a half century ago. Chains have turned Americans who once were independent business men and women into employees.
The fate of the health care bill demonstrates the power of private lobbies. What was to be health care for Americans was instantly transformed into 30 million new patients for the private health insurance industry. The “solution” to tens of millions of Americans being unable to afford health care is a law that requires them to purchase a private health care policy or be annually fined. As most of these uninsured Americans cannot afford to purchase a private policy, the plan is for the federal government to use taxpayers’ money to subsidize their purchase of a policy from private companies.
In other words, tax money is being diverted to the pockets of private businesses. This is par for the course in “capitalist” America.
In today’s America, Karl Marx’s criticisms of capitalism are understated. Wherever one looks, the scene is one of the government using taxpayers’ money to enrich private interests. Taxes are collected from people who can barely make it, and the revenues are transferred to multi-millionaires and billionaires. The federal government piles debt on the backs of heavily-burdened and dispossessed Americans in order that investment banksters can pay annual bonuses that exceed the lifetime earnings of most Americans.
Every aspect of the US military has been mined for private profit. Supply and other functions for the military, such as those provided by Halliburton and Blackwater, services once provided by the military itself at low cost, have been privatized. These services now cost many multiples of the cost to taxpayers of in-house military provision.

January 22, 2010 4:20 PM  
Anonymous three said...

The “war on terror” enriches the armaments/security industry and enables Israeli territorial expansion. The Israel Lobby and the munitions industry are major sources of funding for U.S. political campaigns.
Prisons have been privatized in order to create profits for private corporations. The prisons require high incarceration rates in order to be profitable. Consequently, “freedom and democracy” America not only has the highest incarceration rate and the highest absolute number of prisoners in the world, but also a prison population comparable in size to the prison population of Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago.
Congress allows private companies run by hardline Republicans to count electronically without paper trails the votes in elections. It has been proved over and over that the electronic voting machines, with proprietary undisclosed codes, can rig any election, especially if there are no exit polls or the captured media can find a way to discredit the exit polls.
And now we have private health care destroyed by the greed for profit. There are many reports of health care corporations, but not private doctors, rationing and even denying health care to policy holders in order to maximize profits. There are reports of people with treatable forms of cancer who were not told by their corporate health care providers in order to avoid the cost of their treatment. These reports are in compliance with capitalist America’s emphasis on profits uber alles, to hell with people, the environment, honor and integrity.
Wall Street is romanticized by libertarians and “free market economists.” They believe, entirely on the basis of their ideology, that Wall Street finances venture capitalists who bring economic progress and higher living standards. Wall Street does no such thing, especially since financial deregulation turned Wall Street into a speculative hedge fund.
Wall Street is concerned with annual bonuses. It will do anything to get them.
Today the interests of American capitalists are as far removed from the interests of the population as the bureaucrats of state owned firms under socialism. Neither can fail, no matter how incompetent or inefficient, as they have the public purse as their backup.
The Wall Street investment banks, which created with the compliance of the regulatory authorities and the credit rating agencies, “toxic” instruments that were sold world wide, thus destroying the prospects of people in many countries, are devoid of integrity and honor. Their only god is greed. And they control the US government, which is too dependent on campaign contributions to restore regulation.
The lobbies of greed rule America. The White House, Congress, even the federal judiciary are impotent in the face of capitalist greed. The recent Supreme Court decision permitting corporations to use shareholders’ money in corporate treasuries to influence elections increases the control that corporations have over the outcome of elections and the decisions of the government of the United States.
There is no government of the people, for the people, by the people, only the rule of private interests.

January 22, 2010 4:21 PM  
Anonymous four said...

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. His new book, How the Economy was Lost, will be published next month by AK Press / CounterPunch. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

January 22, 2010 4:22 PM  
Blogger John said...

The best financial investment you can make is in a politician. The return on that investment is better than any other.

Change that and you will change politics.

January 23, 2010 2:31 PM  
Blogger Hamster said...

We've all witnessed how the greed of Corporations has led to the collapse of our economy.

Now the Supreme Court wants to reward them.

Corporations already have a big advantage over the rest of Americans.
They can hire powerfully connected lobbyist to bend the ears of congressmen to tell them not to enact rules to curb their greed.

Now they will have another tool to drown out the voice of the average citizen.
Unlimited amounts of money to run TV smear campaigns against candidates who try to oppose their power.


So while we are telling the rest of the world how wonderful democracy is because every citizen can vote, we are moving to allow effectively only the rich and powerful to speak....pretty much how it is in Red China. Everyone gets to vote but the rich and powerful control the mT

This move by the conservative supreme court majority should be a wake up call for all freedom loving Americans. They want money to muzzle your right to be heard.

January 24, 2010 10:48 AM  
Anonymous robbie said...

Everybody raise their hand who thinks this debacle will be overturned, amended, vitiated, changed, by any of The Powers That Be any time soon.

January 24, 2010 11:14 AM  

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