Perhaps you’ve heard this once, twice, a thousand times since the Supreme Court made its controversial ruling on the Citizens United case: Unless something changes, ultimately our country will sink into plutocracy, and thus, “dun, dun, dun” we are doomed.
You may also have heard it in plainer terms: rich old guys are messing things up.
I prefer a combination of the two, and thankfully, an actual rich old guy is the one who’s bridged the sentiments. Yes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) didn’t mince words on the Senate floor while defending the Democratic-backed campaign-finance legislation known as the DISCLOSE Act.
The legislation, which the Obama administration says it “strongly supports,” would require all Super PAC, nonprofits, corporations, labor organizations and trade associations that spend more than $10,000 or more on campaign-related advertisements to report the source of their funding to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The FEC would then be required to post the disclosure reports online within 24 hours. Some senators have argued that the bill is needed for transparency in the midst of “shadowy” political groups. However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vehemently attacked the bill – panning it as un-American.
(Insert cynical snicker here.)
In response to GOP efforts to block its passage, Reid chided his political adversaries as lackeys of the ultra rich.
Reid said: "Perhaps Republicans want to shield a handful of billionaires willing to contribute nine figures to sway a close presidential election. ... If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election 17 angry old White men will wake up and realize they just bought the country. That's a sad commentary.”
He added that, "About 60 percent, or more, of these outside dollars are coming from these 17 people."
It’s hard not to see his point of view, especially when you consider some of the dubious characters pouring in money this election cycle. Take for example the 78-year-old casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Thus far, he has pledged to spend a “limitless” amount of money to get Mitt Romney elected in November. He recently also donated $5 million into a super PAC by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and before that, he and his wife offered another $5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, another group backed by Cantor, Speaker John Boehner and other high level Republicans.
There are others like the oil and chemical billionaire Koch Brothers, who have already contributed some $400 million to various political candidates and causes. They are reportedly making their way into more direct media coverage, too. As if their millions weren’t already successfully soiling the reputations of political candidates they disagree with.
Others include the mega-rich owner of Perry Homes, construction man Bob Perry, and the mega-mouth media personality constant conspiracy theorists, Donald Trump. None of them are pouring massive amounts of money into conservative pockets out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s clear the funds come with certain expectations.
Should we have to endure a President Mitt Romney and a Republican-controlled Congress, we can look forward to a Romney tax plan that could potentially elminate almost 800,000 American jobs. The plan would also curtail tax rats that would cost nearly $1 trillion.
The Center of American Progress, which studied the plan, concluded that: “Romney’s plan would reward and potentially accelerate the shift of jobs and profits overseas. President Obama’s plan, by contrast, helps level the playing field for job creation here at home.”
And I’m pretty sure the likes of Sheldon Adelson will go right back to using his clout as the third richest man in America to ensure his interests match those of Congress with ease.
Needless to say, it’s not very hard to see Senator Reid’s point-of-view. At the same time, as nice as it is to hear a rich old White man peep game about his richer old White male brethren, it’d be even better if he could actually do something about it.