by Ed Klein, Peoria, IL
The Supreme Court decision that overturned key campaign finance rules is called Citizens United. Whoever came up with that name must have followed Alice through the looking glass. The fact is, citizens are not united on this issue. The only ones in favor of this piece of chicanery are the big money interests who see it as a way to make big profits even bigger. Oh yes, we mustn’t forget the Republican Party, upon whom the bulk of those unlimited and unreported funds will be lavished. What for? Why, what else but working the will of power-hungry corporate oligarchs.
Citizens United gives corporations the same First Amendment rights enjoyed by living and breathing individual human beings. In other words, you and me. This is a massive, bold-faced assault on our democracy. Corporations like Exxon Mobile, Bank of America and Cigna can spend unlimited funds – all unaccounted for – to support or oppose political candidates. According to Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, millions and millions of those dollars are being laundered through shadowy outside groups like Carl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, the Koch’s Affiliated for Prosperity, and that leading big business trade association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Thanks to a Republican-leaning Supreme Court, big money has the freedom to use its massive financial support – without any accountability – to influence, or should I say, subvert, elections and take them out of the hands of the American voters. What they are saying is, ‘Don’t waste your time voting. We’ve got the elections tied up.’
Now, what is it that big money seeks to buy? For one thing they’re laying out big cash to oppose changes in the minimum wage. Any increase that would help the middle class citizens enjoy a better life, minimal though it might be, would take money away from those who care not a whit where their treasure comes from, as long as it comes, or who would suffer. Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax cut for the rich is right up their alley: dismantle health care reform piece by piece, and cut Social Security benefits. They have proven time and again that when it comes to their dangerous plans to destroy the economic security of the middle class, they refuse to listen to reason. That’s because to them reason makes little sense and fewer dollars sin their own money bags.
But, let’s not stop there. Their to-do list included slashing Medicare, cutting Pell Grants, public employee pensions, school lunches and other programs American families rely on, to the tune of $800 billion. The result of all that would be to turn the lives of millions of Americans into a third world kind of existence, all the while assuring us that the poor and middle classes will be better off under their programs. Handing a tax cut of $1 to $2 million to those in the top 0.5% while adding an estimated $5.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade is apparently what they call progress.
Pope Francis I put all this in perspective by condemning a “savage capitalism that has taught the logic of profit at all costs, of giving to get, at exploitation without looking at the persons … and we see the results in the crisis we are living.” But then, we must remember, for big business and their Republican flunkies, it’s all about the money.