Can a Politician Win Without Wall Street ??

A Grim Scenario for the 99 percent. In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to the health of the American political process. In the name of free speech for all, the court instead empowered speech by those who control corporate treasuries, and by billionaires who want to personally sponsor presidential candidates. As a result, this year’s election, more than ever, seems to be captured by the “1%”. Super PACs, malign spawn of Citizens United, are little more than vehicles to buy electoral influence for those who can contribute six, seven or even eight-figure amounts. While donors to super PACs are (usually) known to the public, the shy among the “1 percent” give their millions to “social welfare” organizations, groups that do not have to disclose their donors and that, in an effort to dupe the I.R.S., pretend their campaign ads are “issue” ads. It is a grim scenario. Any candidate who lacks the help of a friendly super PAC is likely to be overwhelmed by an opponent’s big money, unless (like in the Massachusetts Senate race) candidates can negotiate a mutual disarmament treaty. Even most well-intentioned candidate today will have a hard time competing if he or she cannot cultivate support from the wealthy. It’s little wonder a campaign finance system so skewed to wealthy donors results in a government incapable of raising taxes on those same wealthy donors. They’re getting a good return on their investment. Although grim, its not hopeless. A widely discussed reform would be to empower small donors, those who contribute $250 or less, through a system of public financing that provides a multiple match of their small donations. Under such a system, a $200 donation could result in $1,200 to the candidate. This would allow candidates to have a shot at amassing sufficient campaign funds even without focusing their time and attention on the wealthy alone. It’s not a panacea, but it would restore some balance to a system that is now 99% engineered for the benefit of the 1%.

Room for Debate:


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Consultor Internacional

6 Responses to Can a Politician Win Without Wall Street ??

  1. (NYT GOLD PICK) Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Mr. Simon’s blunt statement “In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to the health of the American political process” is right on target. However, that decision only makes transparent a political system hooked on increasing amounts of money in each electoral cycle. US democracy and big money are synonymy and the American people are quite aware of it for a long time. No surprise on that decision by the Supreme Court though. The problem with the Citizens United’s decision is the economic context in which the decision takes place. The worst economic downturn since the 1930s and two digits unemployment with no end in sight of it. To complicate matters further, the average American voter discovers that he belongs to the 99% underclass poor while the 1% rich owns most of the wealth created in the economy. As far as economic distribution and social fairness are concerned, the US today resembles a Latin American banana republic. The Citizens United decision has an important implication. From now on, it exacerbates the class struggle and conflict between the 99% poor and the 1% rich. The former has the votes but the latter has the money and sophisticated ways to convince the poor to vote for them. Romney or Obama? It is not an even playing field as far as the winner side is concerned.

  2. Don Reid: I loathe the 1%: 99% designations. They are contrived by the OWS crowd to draw a bogus demarcation to enlist the sympathy of everyone who does not feel very rich, which is, of course, almost everyone. They have failed. I know many, many people who definitely don’t consider themselves rich, but more stringently deny being part of the 99% as portrayed. The truth is that the OWS crowd was a media creation only, and not given much credibility by most people. They deserved even less than they got.

  3. Don Reid: It has risen to the level of legend that the rich can buy any political office they choose. It is not legend, it is a myth. Ask Meg Whitman of eBay fame who spent tens of millions of her own money running for governor of California only to be defeated by an ascetic Jerry Brown. Just what do people think the rich can do that ensures their victory? Based on the criticism of Citizens United, they believe that if you purchase enough TV time and bumper stickers, the election is a mere formality. I can only say that if you make your decision about who gets your vote based on campaign advertising, you are not really qualified to vote anyway. I don’t watch any commercials, and if I did, would even then exclude political ads. They are all tripe. They are lies, misrepresentations, distortions, or half-truths meant to confuse the voter and sow doubt about the opposing candidates and parties. When they are not denigrating the opposition, they are making vague promises which are either meaningless or impossible to keep, but politicians know that if elected, people will forget, or you can blame your lack of fulfillment on the “other side” (or more recently, the previous President). Most people can’t even claim to have been swayed by advertising. “My father always voted Democratic/Republican, and that’s good enough for me.” Totally mindless. One of the worst abuses of voting in the US is the single-party vote which allows someone to vote for all candidates of one party without having to vote separately, office by office. I would prefer that party affiliations be stripped from the ballot so people would actually have to know something about the people running for office. As often as not, people vote based on a single issue: abortion, religion, race, stand on homosexual marriage, the environment, foreign policy (wars), universal healthcare, retirement benefits, etc. Other than their one issue, they neither know nor care about the rest.

  4. Don Reid: Can a politician run without money? No. Will money decide the election? Again, no. Candidates need enough money to support the campaign. People are seldom willing to contribute what is necessary. Businesses provide the rest. Who do businesses support? Candidates that support businesses. The notion that the taxpayer should pony up money for everyone who wants to run means that you might well be giving more to campaigns of people you don’t support than you would give to ones who you do. Have the inmates taken over the asylum? Politics is not sports. Everyone doesn’t play by the same rules, and everyone definitely doesn’t have the same talents (resources). Democracy is far from perfect if for no other reason than ignorant people are still allowed to vote.

    All democracy really does is provide for the peaceful transition from one person in power to another making coups and revolutions unnecessary.

    When someone comes up with a more acceptable plan, we would all like to consider it. Until then, people should stop crying over the fact that one side has more money than the other. It will always be the case, and amusingly, it really makes very little difference. In your comments, you use terms like “social fairness” and “class struggle”, and assume the ‘1%’ owns most of the wealth. These are vague and erroneous. Social fairness defies definition, and “class struggle” is just an inflammatory political term used to pit one group against another. These are the types of terms and claims used in political advertising, and show an inability of people to state clearly what they mean. Perhaps it is because if left ambiguous, people will interpret things to put themselves in the underdog role, and respond to promises of getting “what they deserve” without effort from the government.

  5. Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, told the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that he had been “dead wrong” to dismiss early news reports of his bank’s reckless trading and that he was “sorry” for the resulting losses, variously estimated at $2 billion to $5 billion, and counting. He even ventured that too-big-too-fail banks have “negatives,” including “you know, greed, arrogance, hubris, lack of attention to detail.” In brief, he didn’t say much that everyone didn’t already know — and he didn’t give an inch on his fierce opposition to the tough financial regulations needed to ensure that banks’ risky behavior does not again threaten to bring down the financial system. The senators did not press him nearly hard enough. Some Republicans even praised Mr. Dimon for his bank leadership and let him critique proposed financial regulations, while one Democrat sought his advice on how to fix the deficit. A month after the trading losses were first revealed, Mr. Dimon has yet to offer a thorough explanation for what happened. One of the big questions is whether the loser trades were really, as Mr. Dimon claims, hedges intended to protect against potential losses on other of the bank’s positions, or proprietary trades — speculative bets — placed for profit. Banks would be allowed to hedge but barred from pure speculation under the Volcker Rule, one of the Dodd-Frank reforms intended to curtail reckless trading. Mr. Dimon, who has been the most outspoken critic of the rule, said that his bank’s trades started out as legitimate hedges, but even his nonexplanation of events indicates otherwise. In a crisis, like a global credit crunch, he said, the complex derivatives at the heart of the bank’s bad trades were supposed to make a lot of money. So much for guarding against losses on underlying investments. There were no questions at the hearing about Mr. Dimon’s efforts — and those of other banks — to win an exemption from the Dodd-Frank rules for derivative trades made through foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries. The Chase trades that went bad were conducted in London, as were the bad bets by American International Group in the run-up to the financial crisis (…..)

  6. Even in a political season marked by unprecedented levels of political spending, Sheldon Adelson stands alone. In recent days, Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a “super PAC” backing Mitt Romney, people with knowledge of the contribution said Wednesday. The move leaves the Adelsons by far the most prolific campaign donors in the country. All told, they have given at least $35 million to pro-Republican super PACs during the 2012 campaign, along with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of $2,500 checks directly to federal candidates. That is more than twice as much money as the closest competitors for the title, the conservative Texas billionaire Harold C. Simmons and his wife, Annette, making Mr. Adelson a uniquely powerful force in the annals of presidential politics. In the wake of court rulings and other actions that have largely deregulated the campaign finance system, wealthy donors and corporations are planning to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this year’s presidential and Congressional elections, mostly in support of Republicans. The cascade of money has left President Obama struggling to keep up, with few Democrats willing to write multimillion-dollar checks to super PACs, in part because many of them object to the existence of super PACs in the first place. It has also set off an arms race among Republican candidates for the allegiance of a small group of very rich donors.

    With a net worth of roughly $25 billion, Mr. Adelson is among the richest of all: In an interview with Forbes magazine this year, he suggested he would consider personally spending as much as $100 million on the 2012 elections.

    Many wealthy donors have put their money into issue advocacy groups that are not required to disclose their identities to the Federal Election Commission, leaving unknown the true scale of outside money flowing into the 2012 campaigns. A group of conservative donors led by Charles and David Koch, for example, have pledged to raise as much as $400 million for issue groups, including the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, and Mr. Adelson himself has financed such organizations in past elections (…..)



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