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Sun Apr 6, 2014, 07:04 AM

Cash rules everything around us


Cash rules everything around us
Apr 4th 2014, 14:38 by T.N. | LOS ANGELES

AS A foreign journalist covering politics in America, I have learned to interpret the manoeuvrings of politicians in financial as well as political terms. A candidate for governor says something crazy about guns. Why? To shore up his position with voters ahead of a close-run primary, perhaps. But it could also be because he's running out of money and needs to gee up the fat-walleted second-amendment crowd. If you wondered, as I did, why the Democrats seemed to have got a bee in their collective bonnet over Nate Silver's GOP-friendly Senate predictions, you'll find the answer in their fundraising e-mails, which leverage the bad news to squeeze donors for more cash. Money can't buy you elections, but following it can help you understand them.

There are a couple of buried assumptions in much of the reaction to Wednesday's Supreme Court McCutcheon decision that seem questionable to me. The first is that we know what its consequences will be. The second is that the question of how election campaigns should be financed can be readily answered.

Even if only 646 people rubbed up against the aggregate $123,200 cap in the last election cycle, the justices' decision to remove the cap will, it seems safe to say, increase the role of money in American elections. But that doesn't mean we might as well sack the politicians and let Tom Steyer and the Koch brothers duke it out directly. As Nathaniel Persily points out in the New York Times, the ruling could at least shift the balance to politicians and party bosses, who have some degree of accountability, and away from independent groups that have little or none and that often behave accordingly. In a post-Citizens United world, you're going to have lots of money sloshing around politics anyway. Wednesday's decision is expected to send more of that cash directly to politicians, who must disclose the source of their funding; super PACs do not.

Does that mean a supercharged John Boehner will now be able to stare down the Tea Party and get, say, immigration reform through Congress? Probably not. The forces that stop the Speaker from allowing the House of Representatives to consider a bill that probably has the votes to pass are a lot gnarlier than that. But it is a possible consequence of McCutcheon that, over time, establishment politicians will regain some of the power they have lost to independent groups, and that, at the margin, that fact will lead to policymaking priorities a little more in line with those of voters. That's a vague and speculative claim, to be sure, but that's entirely the point: just as with previous campaign-finance rulings, no one knows how this one will shake out.

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Reply Cash rules everything around us (Original post)
unhappycamper Apr 2014 OP
daleanime Apr 2014 #1

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sun Apr 6, 2014, 07:58 AM

1. K&R....

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