Big Money Rules Again

Posted by

So I woke up this morning to an article on Huffington Post that highlighted the schism that developed amongst Democrats on the Senate banking committee. It concerned the recent bill that Trump signed which deregulated parts of the Dodd/Frank legislation enacted after the financial crisis of 2008. That some of the Democrats on the committee and the overall Senate were at odds with one another is not what struck me most about the piece. After all, disorganization and Democrats kind of go hand in hand. No, what was most concerning was how Wall Street money played such a huge role in getting the legislation passed. In all, 17 Democrats ended up crossing over and voted with Republicans on a measure, which basically allowed banks worth up to $250 billion to escape some of the more stringent capital requirements that existed in Dodd/Frank. While the actual deregulation is alarming enough, and worthy of a separate column by itself, it’s really the continued corruption of our politics by unlimited amounts of money that should concern everyone.

Most of us have heard about the disastrous Citizens United decision in 2010 that pretty much opened the vault of corporate America and allowed them and other rich donors to pour millions of dollars into our political campaigns. This recent legislation merely reinforces what is so clearly wrong with our current political system. Big money. Dark money. Unlimited money. It never stops and what’s most alarming, many Democrats are forced to rely on this money. Several on the banking committee, including Sen. Mark Warner(D-Va), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp(D-Nd), and Sen. Jon Tester(D-Mt) are known as being friendly with Wall Street banks. We know the Republican Party is the party of corporate America. When Democrats are forced to go down this road it makes me sick to my stomach.

Democrats have always been the party of the working people and downtrodden of society. Trump was able to hijack this narrative from the Democrats in his race against Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton and her friendlier ties to Wall Street did not help in this regard. It’s time that Democrats take this issue back and own it. With such an important mid-term election coming up, Citizens United ought to be a lightening rod for all Democratic candidates. Republican opponents should be called out on it. Would they support a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United? Are they for unlimited dark money rolling into campaigns? What would they do to get corporate money out of politics?

Until we reshape our political system and how we finance campaigns, nothing is going to change. Republicans have no plan, nor do they have any desire for a plan to do anything about it. If Democrats want to win back the narrative, there’s no better place to start than campaign finance reform. Let it be a rallying cry for leveling the playing field. Franklin Roosevelt used to rail about the ‘economic royalists’ back in his day. Democrats need to seize the issue and run on it.

I don’t begrudge those Democrats who happen to rely on Wall Street money for their campaigns. I realize the system is what it is. But we know the Republican Party doesn’t have the stomach for this discussion. Make them own it. Call them out. Take the high road and let them defend the status quo.


  1. Brookingslib, I have heard some people trying to make money and speech equivalent legally speaking. Not that I buy that argument, however, in order to give any validity to that argument, all laws that tell us how we should spend our money and laws that limit campaign contributions should be null and void.


    1. I wholeheartedly disagree. You can’t tell me that lobbyists/corporations/wealthy people who spend hundreds of thousands on politicians do not have an outsized influence. We need to level the playing field. Eliminate the revolving door between people serving in congress, then getting plum jobs as lobbyists. At the very least, and I mean very least, the people who contribute to so-called ‘dark money’ organizations that buy political advertising, MUST reveal themselves. Why would Republicans, or anyone for that matter, not be for that? Loopholes in campaign finance laws allow them to contribute anonymously. This is an outrage, in my view.
      This is where the libertarian viewpoint gets it wrong. You must have guardrails. You must have regulations, especially in the complex democracy that we live in. Otherwise, you end up with a failed democracy, which, I might add, we’re dangerously approaching.
      I know you just want government to get out of the way. That might sound good, but in the end, it’s not reasonable, all for the reasons I’ve pointed out to you in the past.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brookingslib, I do not buy into the money equals speech argument. Having said that, if one wants to make that argument and have it be even remotely credible, why not eliminate all restrictions on political contributions, end bans on prostitution and end the drug war?


      2. I’d be open to the last two. Not on political contributions though. I think the evidence is clear how this is infecting everything in D.C. Even now, there are two Dem Senators holding up substantial progress on Biden’s plan for significant action on climate change and pharmaceutical pricing. Yet these two Senators are being deluged with fossil fuel and pharmaceutical behemoth’s money who are totally against it. Now you’re probably against anything being done on these things anyway since you’re of the libertarian point of view. That’s fine. For me, though, this is BS. I want legislation dealing with both. Most of America is for it. The big money Corps are not. How is this fair?
        I say, limit their contributions to a few bucks, down to the level of ordinary Americans. And let’s make campaigns publicly supported in some way. There are lots of ideas on how to do it. We should experiment and see what works. Bottom line: money is NOT speech. And a corporation is NOT a person. The corrupt Supreme Court does not agree. Unacceptable.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Brookingslib, what about a $4, 000.00 per family maximum contribution to a political campaign? Less can be contributed, however, a $4, 000.00 direct campaign donation seems reasonable. Just my thoughts.


  2. Brookingslib, a largely self-funded candidate can spend whatever amount he or she wants on his or her own campaign, however, people who favor said candidate would be limited to a $4, 000.00 maximum contribution. They can also make phone calls on behalf of said candidate.


    1. I wouldn’t allow the self funder, to be honest with you. And it doesn’t matter what political party their in. That’s just me. Just because your wealthy doesn’t mean you should be able to try and buy your way in to office. He or she should all be lumped in together in my view.


  3. Brookingslib, under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, my idea should fit in that regard. Limiting direct campaign contributions to $4, 000.00 is perfectly reasonable to me.


    1. It IS reasonable. The problem is getting both sides of Congress and a President to sign such legislation. It’s pathetic that it hasn’t happened. There are too many politicians who love the status quo. I’m not optimistic, unfortunately.


      1. Brookingslib, I am not one to buy into the idea that money should be an influence in swinging election results. Having said that, I have a hard time taking people seriously who claim that money equals speech in one area and not another.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s