The Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations are persons, for the purpose of the First Amendment, which have a free speech constitutional right to tap corporate treasuries and spend unlimited corporate funds on politics. A constitutional amendment has been introduced in the House to overturn the decision.
The Amendment raises several important policy questions: (a) whether corporations will voluntarily limit their political spending in the 2012 Elections until the fate of the Amendment is resolved by Congress; and, (b) whether the candidates for President will voluntarily impose contribution limits on corporate contributions to their campaigns?
The political question is whether introduction of the Amendment is, as stated in the article, “one of the greatest signs yet that the 99 Percenters are having an impact” on national policy.
Deutch’s amendment, called the Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Amendment, would overturn the Citizens United decision, re-establishing the right of Congress and the states to regulate campaign finance laws, and to effectively outlaw the ability of for-profit corporations to contribute to campaign spending.
Source: Read THINK PROGRESS
The decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is unprecedented in American jurisprudence and national politics.It could unleash unlimited corporate expenditures of treasury funds into the political process without any comments by shareholders. That could result in billions of dollars of heretofore untapped and unavailable corporate cash pouring into elections.
One view is that the full impact of the decision, authorizing an unprecedented and historic expansion of corporate political advocacy directed at policy decisions, and to the election or defeat of candidates for political office, could be devastating.
Another view, as articulated by Dr. Stephen R. Weissman, a former associate director for policy at the Campaign Finance Institute, is that the “decision is unlikely to change the political situation on the ground very much.” Read Los Angeles Times, Opinion (January 28, 2010).
The decision in Citizens United could usher into the mix new era campaign technologies, communications strategies and fierce rapid responses by savvy politicians to hits from corporate sponsored political ads on a range of policy issues some of which may not directly concern the business operations of corporations.
Corporations will raise their profiles, advocate and engage in politics by hitting politicians for their positions on policy issues. Politicians in turn will intuitively respond and hit back.
Increased corporate spending for political advertising will generate significant mainstream political media coverage of the controversies. The coverage in one sense may heighten the public’s interest; but, in another sense, the coverage will diminish the quality of the information disseminated to the public by the media which generally should empower them to take part more effectively in the political process by acting on what, but for the portal to portal coverage of controversies, otherwise would be unbiased and quality information.
Of course, the clear rebuttal to that argument is that heightened public interest is a good thing because it expands the base of stakeholders in the game on the political playing field. Hence, the political take from the Occupy Wall Street movement which is apparently grafted into the title of the proposed Amendement.
In addition, it can be argued that the more intense the controversies, the policy debates, the attacks on politicians and the media coverage, the better for the political process in general. Savvy politicians and candidates for political office can take advantage of the new-found field of political play, expensed for the most part by corporate political money, and prosper.
The clearest example to illustrate the point is the low-budget but effective campaign by Herman Cain. Cain was able to use low-budget campaign tools, campaign strategies and the Internet to fight back against a barrage of mainstream media coverage, which for the most part was negative; take part in the debates on policy issues; and, position himself as a contender to be taken seriously for the GOP nomination.
Certainly, there will be legitimate concerns expressed about the possible corrosive influence of corporate political money on policy making and the outcomes of elections. But, good politicians should be ready to hit back if they are attacked just as Herman Cain has been able to do by employing new media tools and strategies.
Related Coverage & Web Articles
- Democrats seek to overturn Citizens United via constitutional amendment (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- ‘Citizens United’ Fight: Constitutional Amendment Against Corporate Cash Introduced By House Dems (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Guy Who Proposed Amending the Constitution to Overturn Citizens United Faults Senators for Trying to Do That (reason.com)
- Rep. Deutch Introduces OCCUPIED Constitutional Amendment to Ban Corporate Money In Politics (stevebeckow.com)
- Citizens United Going Down? Democrats Introduce Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Ruling (brandtstandard.com)
- Editorial: Even Worse Than Citizens United (nytimes.com)
- Brad Smith: Another Attack on Corporate Speech (online.wsj.com)