Does Inquisitor Schumer Clandestinely Loathe Open-Speech Elections?
Since the clever acronym for Democrats’ new election fund accountability scheme is DISCLOSE, perhaps they could disclose for the American people the true intention of the bill and the consequences it will have on free speech and political advocacy during election cycles.
The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act was proposed in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in January, which slapped down the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act’s prohibition of corporate sponsorship of electioneering communications 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary.
The Democracy, etc. Act—alternately referred to by insiders as DISCLOSE, H.R. 5175, McCain-Feingold Part II, ABRIDGE, SQUELCH, and SUFFOCATE—would ban certain parties, such as federal contractors with more than a specified dollar amount in contracts, from producing any political communications right before elections, and would impose burdensome “transparency” requirements on others. For-profit and nonprofit corporations would be regulated under the law, but unions would be exempted from it—a fact that absolutely coincidentally happens to disadvantage Republicans and benefit Democrats.
The act would also require the top five corporate sponsors of any ad to declare themselves at the end of the ad—which means that in addition to hearing politicians recite, “My name is Joe Windbag, and I approve this message,” we’d have to hear, “My name is Joe Moneybags, and I’m CEO of Megalopolis Corporation, and I approve this message,” “My name is…” etc. Given that most political ads are only 30 seconds long, commercials under DISCLOSE will inevitably start to resemble that Eminem song where he raps over and over, “My name is… My name is…”.
New York Senator Charles Schumer and Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen are the proud sponsors of this bill.
Upon its unveiling, Schumer trumpeted that the bill’s “deterrent effect should not be underestimated.”
Van Hollen, who just so happens to be the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, claims that the bill is necessary because it will prevent foreign entities from influencing U.S. elections via shadowy front groups.
This is a remarkable claim for a Democrat to make, given that: (1) Citizens United did not, as claimed by our Fabricator-in-Chief at his State of the Union Address, “open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections”—it did not even alter the existing ban on election-related contributions from foreign nationals or corporations; and (2) a good chunk of Obama’s presidential election fund was made up of overseas donors whom Obama, unlike John McCain and Hillary Clinton, never required to reveal their identities or associations for the public.
In the wake of pressure from the National Rifle Association, who wanted an exemption from the proposed regulations and threatened to campaign against midterm election candidates who voted for the act, Democrats arbitrarily refashioned the legislation to exclude groups that had at least one million members, had been around for 10 years, had membership in all 50 states, and received no more than 15% of their funding from corporations. Only the NRA qualified under these guidelines. (An aide leaked that earlier language, rejected as too obvious, would have offered a carve-out for any organization that had been around for at least 139 years, boasted national membership of at least 3.5 million, counted Ulysses S. Grant and Charlton Heston among its former presidents, and sported an eagle atop two crossed rifles as its logo.)
Due to bipartisan outrage over the narrowly tailored exception for the NRA, last week the bill’s sponsors lowered the membership threshold criterion to 500,000, which allowed groups such as the AARP and the Humane Society into the Mile High Club.
Realizing that there were still not enough votes for the act, on Thursday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tabled the bill, though Van Hollen this week announced that House Democrats’ efforts to reverse Citizens United were not over. The White House chimed in by giving the bill a fresh endorsement on Monday.
Yesterday, Van Hollen released hilarious poll results claiming that 87% of Republican voters and 90% of Democratic voters supported the bill. The only thing Republican and Democratic voters agree on in such overwhelming numbers is that Republican and Democratic voters don’t agree on anything that strongly.
DISCLOSE went to the Rules committee today, and a vote may come as early as tomorrow.
Democrats are dying to shove this monstrosity through Congress well before the November elections, to prohibit right-leaning groups from facilitating the expected Democratic massacre. Their maneuver recalls the proposal Senate Democrats floated to get rid of the filibuster earlier this year, when they thought they couldn’t pass their health care bill with it in place. In a letter co-written with Harry Reid, Schumer admits that, “We commit to working tirelessly for Senate consideration of the House-passed bill so it can be signed by the President in time to take effect for the 2010 elections.”
The Supreme Court may well overturn this law, in keeping with the spirit of their Citizens United decision, but by that point the November midterm elections will be long gone.
What all of this proves is that, as usual, Democrats never think ahead to what might happen as a consequence of the crummy legislation they pass for short-term political gain, and whether it might come back to cause them long-term political grief—to say nothing of its constitutionality or its utility in preserving the nation’s ideals. I don’t know, I think a filibuster might come in pretty handy after two waves of Republicans sweeping Congressional elections in 2010 and 2012—eh, House Minority Leader Pelosi?
In addition to being immoral calculators who would throw their grandmothers under the bus for political power, Democrats are shortsighted and lunk-headed when it comes to enacting their schemes. If they get away with DISCLOSE, it will only be because of the moral cowardice and incompetence of Republicans in failing to oppose them.