President Obama Supports Undoing Citizens United
President Obama threw his weight behind the movement to address the decision that granted corporations the ability to spend unlimited dollars in the name of “political speech” in an answer to a constituent question posed to him in a Reddit chat. It was the first time that the president voiced this support himself.
The president’s statement about a potential constitutional amendment was part of a larger answer to a question about the role of money in American politics: “What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?” Reddit user Suzmerk asked.
In response, Obama wrote:
Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.
The ongoing dialogue around the influence of corporate spending in the election process comes as The Chamber of Commerce unleashes a flood of political advertisements designed to thwart Democratic financial reform initiatives and to back Wall Street friendly conservatives.
The Chamber of Commerce is not alone in its efforts to put a pro-business conclusion to the election. A Huffington Post report last month found that $172 million had already been spent in the 2012 election season and that 43 percent of all reported political spending occurred by dark money groups who do not disclose donors.
The Democrats will never be able to out-raise and out-spend Republicans, and if Republican efforts at wide scale voter disenfranchisement prove successful and enduring, then substantial campaign reform is our democracy’s only hope.
Photo from 401K 2012 via flickr.