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Corporate spending in politics is good for America

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This topic contains 40 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  ehill27 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #79884

    ehill27
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    Many conservative politicians have openly praised the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn a century-old ban on corporate spending for political campaigns.

    I’m wondering if someone can explain why they feel this decision is good for democracy?

    #339366
    drew
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    There has been some discussion here about this, but I haven’t heard anything I’d consider to be a thought provoking defense of the decision.

    #339367
    Andrew Hall
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    drew wrote >>
    There has been some discussion here about this, but I haven’t heard anything I’d consider to be a thought provoking defense of the decision.

    Sorry I don’t meet your standards. I will defend in on several grounds, though not absolutely.

    First off all, the original law created a criminal category of speech. That is wholly unacceptable.

    Secondly, the law made artificial distinctions of media types and enshrined the major media corporations with special powers. ie – Fox News could run whatever “news” program they wanted or chose to air/not air news which ran contrary to their ideologies without penalty while competing interests could not buy time even on another outlet without penalty. Much of the campaign finance law is written from a very old-fashioned perspective and is as much about preserving certain special interests (traditional media corps) at the expense of others.

    While SCOTUS could have made a much more limited decision, the initial impetus here was totally stupid. The film in question was felt to be subject to criminal and civil penalties when shown as ‘on-demand’ on cable. As “cable” is specified in the law, that raised the issue. Yet one could view it on the Internet which might well come across the literal cable. Simply put, McCain-Feingold is a bad law.

    Lastly, not so much argument as observation, the ACLU has precisely the same position as I do on this – free speech trumps the rest. Again, sorry if such a strong commitment to free speech is not thought-provoking to you.

    A.

    #339368

    ehill27
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    How many political favors does a million dollars worth of free speech get ya?

    #339369
    Andrew Hall
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    ehill27 wrote >>
    How many political favors does a million dollars worth of free speech get ya?

    Thanks for such a deep and clearly well-thought-out response.

    If you truly cared about an answer to your question above (instead of mere parading), you might read the ACLU’s amicus curiae. That does take more effort than posting single sentences on CU. Sorry about that.

    A.

    #339370
    jackoh
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    Andrew Hall wrote <
    Lastly, not so much argument as observation, the ACLU has precisely the same position as I do on this – free speech trumps the rest. Again, sorry if such a strong commitment to free speech is not thought-provoking to you.
    A.

    Notice that the commitment here is to FREE speech not to FACTUAL speech.
    The ruling allowing corporations (and also unions) to spend freely to flood the media with ads that may not be factually accurate, and that are designed to influence the behavior of voters in specific ways may well be the equivalent of allowing someone to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater.

    #339371
    Bear
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    Andrew Hall wrote >>
    Sorry I don’t meet your standards. I will defend in on several grounds, though not absolutely.
    First off all, the original law created a criminal category of speech. That is wholly unacceptable.

    As jackoh points out, criminal categories of speech do exist. And often with good reason.

    Note that the ban on unlimited “soft money” contributions (used to finance the dissemination of political speech) by corporations and wealthy individuals directly to political parties remains intact in the Citizens United ruling. Does that ban, too, create a wholly unacceptable criminal category of speech?

    #339372
    Andrew Hall
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    The “Fire” example is specious here. (I advise reading the history of that phrase and to what speech it was applied to.) Among other things, there is a difference between outcomes based on content and restraints based on who is speaking. It is also extra specious since the “Fire” example implies an immediacy of action vs considered action. Political speech is hardly the former.

    @jackoh – There are existing laws which create (civil, I believe) penalties for false statements in political ads. Much of you describe is quite subjective and I am not at all happy with the idea of a government panel making those decisions.

    @Bear Again, criminal categories based on outcomes, not on sources of speech. As to the latter, I am not sure if that ban has civil or criminal penalties. Either way, I don’t agree with it. SCOTUS has not over-ruled it though.

    A.

    #339373
    Bear
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    The printing of anti-draft pamphlets that prompted the “Fire” analogy was considered action.

    #339374
    drew
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    Andrew Hall wrote >>
    @Bear Again, criminal categories based on outcomes, not on sources of speech. As to the latter, I am not sure if that ban has civil or criminal penalties.

    Emphasis mine… and that’s the issue – corporate personhood. I’ve never understood why the rights afforded an individual are given to a person that isn’t a person. And, if a corporation is a person under the law, then perhaps its spending on political speech should have some relationship to what the average person in the US could reasonably afford to spend on same.

    Since that’s not the case, though, corporations have a tremendous edge in influencing public policy – both in dissemination of speech and through supporting politicians who are altogether too eager to craft policy in such a way as to keep the campaign money flowing. “Quid pro quo, Clarice.”

    No?

    #339375
    Andrew Hall
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    Bear wrote >>
    The printing of anti-draft pamphlets that prompted the “Fire” analogy was considered action.

    And you agree with this?

    I believe it was not the printing, per se, but the dissemination to draftees in the context of the ongoing war. Sounds not unlike the Patriot Act.

    A.

    #339376
    Andrew Hall
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    drew wrote >>

    Andrew Hall wrote >>
    @Bear Again, criminal categories based on outcomes, not on sources of speech. As to the latter, I am not sure if that ban has civil or criminal penalties.

    Emphasis mine… and that’s the issue – corporate personhood. I’ve never understood why the rights afforded an individual are given to a person that isn’t a person. And, if a corporation is a person under the law, then perhaps its spending on political speech should have some relationship to what the average person in the US could reasonably afford to spend on same.
    Since that’s not the case, though, corporations have a tremendous edge in influencing public policy – both in dissemination of speech and through supporting politicians who are altogether too eager to craft policy in such a way as to keep the campaign money flowing. “Quid pro quo, Clarice.”
    No?

    There are a couple things (at least) to tease out of this.

    First off, the prohibition in M-F was not blanket. Exemptions exist for media corporations which is extremely problematic. It also covered groups like the ACLU which is one of the reasons they opposed it. In their brief, they cite specifically that the ban applied to their engaging in speech as applied to matters directly before the legislature during the 60/30 day frame. You are applying the definition of corporation to a specific type of whom you have a fear. The recent SCOTUS decision will never go down as one of their finest moments, but it is also a matter of GIGO.

    More abstractly, I am not comfortable with the idea that an amalgamation of people like a corporation (whose interests are not the same as the individuals) is subject to legal punishments/boons without recourse to influence.

    If you note above, I don’t agree with individual limits either.

    A.

    #339377
    hugh59
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    I guess what I look at is whether the laws that were struck down were effective at keeping money out of politics. They weren’t. Rich people, big corporations, and labor unions are going to want to buy influence with politicians. They are also going to want to flood the media with noise in order to drown out debate. Laws were passed to get the money out of politics and the flood of money kept getting in.

    After McCain-Feingold was passed we saw the creation of the 527 groups and their “independent expenditures.” We end up having the FEC and other enforcement personnel spending all their time trying to enforce these laws…meanwhile the money is still getting spent and the people with money are dominating the print and the airwaves.

    Perhaps we need to rethink the way we try to solve this problem. Big corporations, wealthy individuals, and large labor unions are always going to have the resources to invest in attorneys and other professionals to advise them on how to “comply” with the campaign finance laws in order to avoid them. They will have greater resources than the government personnel charged with enforcing those laws. The government responds by promulgating more regulations…which just makes the process more complicated (which is to the advantage of those trying to avoid the system since they can keep on hiring talented professionals).

    Of course, the small guy loses out. The small guy can’t figure out the rules. The small guy can’t afford to hire the expensive legal talent. The small guy gets blocked.

    Just because a law promises that it will limit the amount of money being spent on campaigns does not mean that it is succeeding. The campaign finance laws that were struck down were failing. We need a new, more effective approach.

    #339378

    ehill27
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    @Andrew Hall

    …but do you believe this decision is good for America?

    #339379

    ehill27
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    @hugh59

    any suggestions?

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