2014 -- People know that money has corrupted elections but don't realize
that money has completely corrupted Congress.
All members of Congress know the value of friendship. You make friends with all the members because you never know when you will need their vote. In 1967, six Democrats and six Republicans met every Wednesday night at a Senator's home; coats off, drinks and giving each other hell.
fast friends. I never had better friends than Republicans Bill Saxbe of
Ohio and Ted Stevens of Alaska. Friendship was above political party.
But after the Buckley decision, Senators started raising money against
each other. Partisanship set in. Now, money has taken over campaigns and
Maurice Stans, Chairman of the Finance Committee for Nixon for President, in 1968 raised money on a "cash and carry" basis. To stop this and to make sure that one could not buy the office, Congress in 1971 (long before Watergate) and 1973, voted to limit spending in elections. President Nixon signed the law which was overturned by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo. The Court created "political speech" with First Amendment protection by finding " virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money."
has tried to correct Buckley with McCain Feingold, public financing,
etc. But on appeal, the agenda driven Court is determined to remove all
restrictions on spending. In Citizens United, the Court gives unlimited
speech, unlimited spending to a Corporation, a legal entity. Now with
the McCutcheon decision, the idle rich can buy the office.
Party Committees took over the fundraising which became constant. Schedules
were changed to fundraise. On February 22nd, Washington's Birthday, a
Senator would read Washington's Farewell Address at noon and we'd vote
in the afternoon. Now, we've merged Lincoln's birthday, Feb 12th with
Washington's for a ten day break to go to Hollywood to fundraise. Thursday's
lunch was reserved for policy meetings. Now on Thursday, Senators go to
Party Headquarters to make calls for money. We used to hate filibusters;
now, love them. One Senator from each party holds the floor and the other
98 Senators travel to fundraise.
lobbyists in Washington have taken control of Congress. Today, Lyndon
Johnson couldn't lead the Senate. Lobbyists work directly with Senators
and fix the vote long before the roll is called. In fact, they tell the
Speaker or Leader when to call the roll. Money has wrested control of
the campaign from the candidate. Running for reelection, Senators learn
that he or she is campaigning on the rich contributor's issues rather
than his or her issues. Campaigning at fundraisers, you only meet supporters
praising you. You can't get to the Courthouse, Fire Station or Main Street
to find out what people are really thinking. The Senator becomes "out
outlaw offshoring but you can make it profitable for Corporate America
to produce in America by replacing the 35% Corporate Tax with a 7% Value
Added Tax. You also need to protect production vital to the economy. This
immediately releases $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America
to repatriate tax free and create millions of jobs. It permits Congress
to balance the budget in two years rather than ten. Wall Street, the Big
Banks and Corporate America want to keep the offshore profits flowing
so their lobbyists contribute to Congress against a VAT; against rebuilding
our economy. The lobbyists give the United States a bleeding economy with
no jobs and no thought of stopping the bleeding.
Constitutional Amendment: "Empowering Congress to limit or control
spending in federal elections" will correct this situation. Five
of the last six amendments to the Constitution deal with elections and
this is more important than any of the five. The States are ready to ratify.
When you limit spending in elections:
Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
© 2014, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.
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