“We are seeing an unprecedented amount of cash flowing into the 2010 elections from corporate sources through independent electioneering groups, most of it entirely unreported.”
– Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen, in an October 28 statement
Sometimes it pays to give attention to the long view. With the pending sunset of the Bush tax cuts taking up the 24-hour news cycle as the sexy story of Congress’ lame duck session, it is important for middle-class Americans to remember, that the tax-cut conundrum cannot be disconnected from the pool of other major financial issues that both Houses must deal with before the gavel falls at the end of the 111th Congress, on December 21.
Among the most important of these maelstrom of money issues, is the delayed passage of the Disclose Act of 2010 by the Senate.
If money is speech, as the Supreme Court says, then those who are fighting the loudest to make the tax-cuts permanent are those who have given the most money to campaigns to make sure they are permanent. Who are those folks? For the most part, it’s a secret. Seriously. Currently, 527s don’t have to disclose where their money comes from. That’s fine with the Republicans, who successfully filibustered the Disclose Act when it came to the floor of the Senate in September.
“The law is what the law is…”
“I would like to have a different system,” Karl Rove told CBS’ Bob Scheiffer – somewhat disingenuously – ten days before the election, “but we have the system we have.” Of course, it’s a system that worked quite well for Rove’s American Crossroads groups, which were accused by some of taking foreign money in their quarter-million dollar-a-day October campaign to unseat the Democrats.
Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele agreed. Speaking that same Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Steele said he believed “the transparency should be there, but the law is what the law is right now.”
Then the RNC chairman threw down the political “put up or shut up” gauntlet, adding, “if people are that bothered by it, then the Congress needs to change it.”
That may be a formidable task, especially since American Crossroads told the New York Times, just before the election, that they were so successful in raising money, they are going to keep spending “well over $50 million combined this year” and “continue advertising against Democrats as Congress returns, when decisions loom on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.”
An effort like that, if it’s successful, puts our entire democracy in the hands of Rove & Co.’s secret, big money special interests. We would do well to heed Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s warning to Keith Olberman two weeks before voters decided she would be losing her gavel.
“If they [Republicans backed by big money special interest] were to win,” she said, “it would mean that we are now a plutocracy, an oligarchy. Whatever these few, wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are, can control our entire agenda.”
For more information: There’s a great article that came out last week in the Washington Independent, that gives a good overview of what thwarted the Disclose Act earlier this year, and what challenges it faces in the lame duck session.