Cenk Uygur who lost some political capital when he endorsed Hillary Clinton after Bernie Sanders had capitulated and endorsed her (Bernie likewise losing political capital for this hard to understand move), still continues to often be right on many issues and has a knack for presenting the case well. Here is a speech he gave about Money in Politics and efforts to get Money Out of Politics, replete with some summary notes by me (in somewhat stronger language, which is why I called this brief blog post a remix). Cenk’s speech starts out slow but does get better:
(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Cenk’s Rousing Speech On Getting Money Out of Politics”)
My “remixed” summary notes and reference annotations follow below:
- 1976 Buckley v. Valeo, 424 US 1 Supreme Court decision: Money = Speech
- 1978 First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 Supreme Court decision: Corporations = Human Beings, so they have the same speech rights as people, so (combining this with the Buckley v. Valeo decision) they can give money to politicians.
- 2010 The infamous, much better known, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 310 decision basically just affirmed the above combination of arguments, making it official that all stops have been pulled out, or – in Cenk’s words – they just shot a dead horse. Indeed, political bribery in the U.S. had been “legal” and rampant for decades, much to my almost lifelong bafflement (almost because I had to grow out of childhood first).
- Note: The main thrust of Citizens United was to allow secret political spending of the robber billionaires via Super Pacs in the form of “external” spending, meaning they don’t give their manipulative millions directly to the candidates they wish to own and enthrone but run external campaigns on their behalves (they campaign directly for their political puppets or public opinion warps). The heart of Citizens United is the Supreme Court’s otherworldly notion that superPACs are completely independent of candidates. Therefore the Court’s conclusion that unregulated money from big donors won’t be corrupting to lawmakers. Super PACs were essential accessories for presidential candidates as early as 2012. Many ran devastating attack ads that the benefiting candidates’ campaigns preferred to avoid running themselves. Some of the Super PACs were funded mainly by one super-rich donor, for example “Winning Our Future,” supporting Republican Newt Gingrich and funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
- Nader explained to Cenk one day that there once was a crook in politics named Tony Coelho who told his fellow “Democrats”, “Hey guys, did you know we can take corporate money now?” (Note: Actually, he did a lot more. He was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee starting in 1981 and “set up new ways for those [business] interests to make their wishes known to House Democrats. Democrats listened, took the money and retained big majorities. All it cost them was their soul.” The quote is taken from the Washington Post article How Republicans lost their mind, Democrats lost their soul and Washington lost its appeal)
- 35% of all taxes in the 1950s and 60s came from corporations (and the highest marginal tax rate was 91%). We’re now down from 35% to 9%!
- So, talking about income redistribution, THEY [the plutocrats a.k.a. oligarchs] redistributed. They redistributed the taxes to working people. The highest percentage rise in taxes was a hike in the payroll tax. The payroll tax (which most of us tend to call income tax) is paid only by working folks – both poor and middle class. They shifted the tax burden from multi-national corporations to us. And please stop talking about “Corporate America”. Corporations aren’t patriotic. They aren’t humans. They are machines. They are owned by shareholders all across the world and run by executives all across the world. (Hence they are no kind of “America”!) With our work, we built these machines. And now they are running amok. It’s like those horror movies where the robots take over. We are in that kind of a movie now, and the robots are the corporations, designed to maximize profits no matter what the costs to people, our economy, our water, our food and air, wildlife, the planet, or the climate.
- The difference between productivity and average American worker’s income is about 12 trillion dollars. The robber billionaires redistributed that difference into their pockets. (It’s unclear in Cenk’s speech over how many years this went, but here is a blog full of interesting charts and economic policy discussions: Economics Without Greed)
- Cenk’s BIG SURPRISE: Wolf PAC has had astounding success getting state senators to approve an amendment to get money out of politics. (That really surprised me.)
- Cenk also introduces the Justice Democrats.
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