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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

 
MAD money: the new political arms race

by digby

ICYMI: my Salon piece from today about the radical billionaires and the McCutcheon MAD money scheme:

The Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which uncorks another gusher of big money into the political system, brought forth a lot of justifiable angst among progressives for obvious reasons. There may be progressive billionaires out there who are willing to sign big checks, but it’s the right-wing billionaires who are making a profit at it. A MAD-money arms race is highly unlikely to benefit people who are concerned with income inequality, poverty and economic justice.

Reportedly, both parties took to the phones in the immediate aftermath and started calling up their deep pocket supporters. And even though the Supreme Court has launched what many people acknowledge is a money “arms race,” some in the media inevitably called the Democrats hypocrites for doing it — but I don’t think you can really blame them for failing to lay down their weapons as a matter of principle. (It would be a fascinating experiment if they did, though …) McCutcheon seems designed to make the parties more powerful again by allowing big donors to simply hand over big checks and let “the professionals” do what they do.

On the surface, this may sound like a good thing. After all, the big super PACs and the Dark Money that’s come to dominate our politics in the past few years has very little transparency (which is why these Big Money Boyz like it so much.) One could make a case that the the parties, at least, are subject to some accountability to the public. Election expert Rick Hazen thought that one of the unanticipated results of this decision might be a loosening of the gridlock that has completely seized up the machinery of government during the Obama era:

Strong political parties have more incentive to cooperate than oppose each other under certain circumstances because they care about their electoral prospects. Look at how Speaker John Boehner pushed through a “clean” debt-limit increase with the help of Democrats in the House and how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to break a Sen. Ted Cruz filibuster of this legislation. Party leaders know that it is in their interest to cooperate and keep the government moving so that voters do not abandon them as obstructionist.

It’s always pretty to think that Washington will come together in bipartisan comity and start governing for the good of all the people. To think this will happen as a result of the vastly wealthy having even more influence than they already have strikes me as so optimistic as to be delusional.

You can read the rest here.

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