Are lobbyists trying to gut Biden's budget? No one knows – and that's the problem

Asia's Tech News Daily

Joe Biden’s Build Back Better reconciliation bill has been stuck in limbo – and conservative Democrats are in fundraising heaven.

Are lobbyists trying to gut Biden’s budget? No one knows – and that’s the problem
© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who raised more than $400,000 from the oil and gas industry while the bill was being negotiated, is now poised to gut Biden’s clean-energy plan. Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema spent the summer and fall collecting checks from corporate groups and Trump donors who oppose the Biden agenda, then helped cut the size of the reconciliation package by approximately half.

Related: Biden’s budget could transform life for working women. Don’t let Manchin gut it | Moira Donegan

Political horse-trading is nothing new, and the version of Build Back Better that seems likely to pass would improve tens of millions of American lives. But there’s still something unseemly about the way this bill has been negotiated. Were the Senate’s holdouts demanding a principled compromise? Acting out of genuine concern for their constituents’ interests? Or were they trading favors for campaign cash?

It’s impossible to know for certain which provisions, if any, were cut because of wealthy campaign donors. But that’s precisely the problem, and it goes far beyond one bill and two senators. Our campaign finance system – one that has existed for barely more than a decade – makes it nearly impossible to distinguish between politics-as-usual, influence peddling and outright bribery. That’s not just a threat to individual policies or pieces of legislation. It’s a threat to public trust in our system of government, and by extension, to democracy itself.

For most of the last half-century, it was widely understood that democracy depends upon voters’ trust that their representatives will represent them. That’s why, in 1976, the supreme court ruled that the public interest was served not just by preventing corruption, but by preventing “the appearance of corruption”. The court’s decision made both legal and intuitive sense: if voters decide that the political process is corrupt, they’ll stop engaging with the political process, thus reducing public accountability and opening the door to more corruption.

Are lobbyists trying to gut Biden’s budget? No one knows – and that’s the problem
© Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP ‘Joe Manchin, who raised more than $400,000 from the oil and gas industry while the bill was being negotiated, is poised to gut Biden’s clean-energy plan.’

But in 2010, a new, far more conservative supreme court took a completely different view. “We now conclude,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in Citizens United, “that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” In a series of follow-on decisions, the court’s rightwing majority expanded on this idea: not that the appearance of corruption was good, but that no amount of money in politics could possibly appear corrupt.

In the real world, the court’s assertion was almost immediately proven false. In a divided country, one thing Americans can agree on is that rich people and corporations have way too much political power. According to the Pew Research Center, for example, 90% of Americans think it’s important for society that wealthy donors have no more influence than other people – but just 26% of people think that is now the case. A handful of justices chose to ignore the “appearance of corruption”, but it hasn’t gone away just because a conservative supreme court closed its eyes.

Fortunately, even in the Citizens United era, there are ways to reduce the political influence of corporate donors and wealthy individuals – and to restore Americans’ faith that government can work for the people.

First, we can make it more difficult for lawmakers and wealthy interests to engage in outright, quid-pro-quo corruption. Just this week, a grand jury indicted Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, for allegedly lying to federal investigators about $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions. This development was remarkable precisely because it was so rare. It’s an open secret that even the campaign finance laws that remain postCitizens United are broken with impunity. (Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump himself tweeted that campaign finance violations “are not a crime”.) If law enforcement investigated and prosecuted corruption more aggressively, lawmakers might become more careful about crossing, or merely approaching, legal lines.

Second, we can do what election law expert Rick Hasen calls “leveling up”. Rather than limiting the amount of corporate money in politics – an impossibility so long as conservatives control the court – we can give ordinary Americans more influence. So-called “democracy vouchers” could give voters tax credits for small-dollar donations to causes they believe in. We could also increase the amount of public funds available for candidates who agree not to take private donations. (Lest anyone try to paint this as some kind of socialist plot, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush all accepted taxpayer dollars to fund their campaigns.)

These changes won’t undo all the damage caused by the Citizen United ruling. But they will help stem the tide

Finally, we can limit the influence of the other side of the influence-peddling equation: lobbying. In the Citizens United era, corporations and wealthy individuals can spend unlimited sums of money on politicians’ campaigns, then spend unlimited sums of money on lobbyists who ask those same politicians for highly specific favors. It’s hard to imagine a system better suited to erode Americans’ trust in their elected officials. But imagine a sliding-scale tax on registered lobbying, far stricter disclosure requirements on corporate political spending, or perhaps even an Office of Public Lobbying to advocate for groups well-represented in America but poorly funded on Capitol Hill.

These changes won’t undo all the damage caused by conservative justices’ Citizen United ruling. But they will help stem the tide. They would give candidates without access to deep-pocketed donors a more level playing field. They would give lawmakers like Manchin and Sinema an alternative to funding their campaigns via wealthy interests – and no excuse not to take it. Most of all, they would give Americans more confidence that the legislative process, while never straightforward or without compromise, is designed to benefit all the people, and not just a privileged few.

Democracy is not just under attack from insurrectionists who would commit political violence or would-be autocrats who would overturn an election. It’s under attack from those who seek to undermine its central promise – that representative government can make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Ultimately, reducing the influence of corporate and megadonor money isn’t about smoothing the next reconciliation bill’s passage, or even fixing a broken campaign-finance system. It’s about bolstering the American republic as it faces its toughest test in decades.

  • David Litt is an American political speechwriter and New York Times bestselling author of Thanks Obama, and Democracy in One Book or Less. He edits How Democracy Lives, a newsletter on democracy reform

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Weisses Haus bestätigt Bidens Videoschalte mit Putin am Dienstag

© Keystone/AP/Evan Vucci Mitten in der angespannten Lage im Ukraine-Konflikt werden Russlands Staatschef Wladimir Putin und US-Präsident Joe Biden am Dienstag miteinander sprechen. Das Weisse Haus bestätigte am Samstagabend die ... Read more »

PF Rule Change: Your EPF Account Comes With Rs 7 Lakh Free Benefits. Know Details

© Provided by News18 PF Rule Change: Your EPF Account Comes With Rs 7 Lakh Free Benefits. Know Details Apart from being a trusted investment scheme for salaried employees, the ... Read more »

Solve this CBSE Business Studies sample paper to score well

Practice this CBSE Business Studies Sample paper to score good marks in the board exam. CBSE Term 1 Board Exam: Attention students, the Central Board of Secondary Education, CBSE, will ... Read more »

Cinema stars descend on Saudi Arabia's first Red Sea International Film Festival

© VALERY HACHE French actress Catherine Deneuve will be in attendance at the first Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah Old Town. AFP The Red Sea International Film Festival ... Read more »

Indonesia volcano toll rises as search for missing continues

© Provided by Al Jazeera Villagers walk near a house covered by volcanic ash spewed out of Mount Semeru in Sumber Wuluh Village, Lumajang, East Java province, Indonesia December 5, ... Read more »

Langnau gegen Zug – wie eine taktische Meisterleistung zu einem Drama wird

© MARCEL BIERI/keystone-sda.ch Tigers Topscorer Jesper Olofsson, links, im Kampf um den Puck gegen Zugs Jan Kovar, rechts. Meister Zug gewinnt in Langnau 5:0. Das Spiel hätte auch ganz anders ... Read more »

Why Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick wants to meet Sir Alex Ferguson

Ralf Rangnick is planning on having lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson as soon as he can after taking over as Manchester United manager. The 63-year-old arrived in the UK earlier ... Read more »

Australia live news update: Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet press conference; Victoria and NSW won't close border over Omicron Covid variant

LIVE – Updated at 05:09 Follow live updates.   05:09 Perrottet says the “constructive relationship” between the state and federal government over the past couple of years demonstrates they will ... Read more »

7 Times Ida Anduyan Made Us Want to Coordinate Outfits with Our S.O.

© Provided by Preview.ph ICYDK, there are many ways to match OOTDs with your S.O.. Whether you don the same colors, pick out certain hues from what your partner is ... Read more »

Canada's Para Nordic Ski Team claims 3 gold medals, bronze to open World Cup Season

© @NordiqCanada/Twitter Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., got her first career victory at the Para World Cup, tying fellow Canadian Natalie Wilkie’s time in Canmore, Alta., on Saturday. Canada’s Para Nordic ... Read more »

Vicki Belo hates her birthday, and here's why

Dr. Vicki Belo has revealed why she despises greetings on her birthday. © Provided by Dailypedia In an interview with Ogie Diaz, she said her birthday only brings pain because ... Read more »

Delivery rider cries after his bike got stolen while picking up order

A food panda rider was left crying in the middle of the street after his bicycle got stolen. © Provided by Dailypedia In a video uploaded by Raymond Bartolome on ... Read more »

Peta Credlin is forced to issue a humiliating apology to Melbourne's South Sudanese community after blaming them for a major Covid outbreak

Former political staffer and Sky News host Peta Credlin issued on air apology Ms Credlin falsely blamed South Sudanese community for Covid outbreak Her comments were not based on fact and 'deeply offensive', she admitted She had previously apologised in 2020 but said that didn't go far enough  Read more »

Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, Siraj visit New Zealand dugout to congratulate Ajaz Patel for 10-wicket haul, video goes viral - WATCH

© Provided by Zee News Mumbai-born New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel entered the history books after he picked all ten wickets in an innings on Saturday (December 3). He achieved the ... Read more »

Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif's Latest Wedding Update: Couple to Arrive Their Marriage Destination on THIS Date

© Kritika Vaid | India.com Entertainment Desk Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif’s Latest Wedding Update: Couple to Arrive Their Marriage Destination on THIS Date Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif’s Latest Wedding Update: As soon ... Read more »

Kyunki Ekta Kapoor is on audio too

© Provided by Mid-Day We have to admit, and right at the beginning, that audio is not our most favourite format. We’d rather read than listen to books, and watch ... Read more »

Thalapathy Vijay's son Sanjay pens a heartwarming note to his dad as he completes 29 years in industry

© Provided by Pinkvilla Thalapathy Vijay is the most popular and loved actor in the South. He has completed 29 years in the industry and social media is trending his ... Read more »

The Christmas pantomime goes halal

© Provided by Mid-Day A Kashmiri actress who made Mumbai her home is suddenly at the centre of Christmas cheer in Britain with an innovative comedy musical act inspired by ... Read more »

US makes it mandatory for all incoming passengers to carry negative COVID-19 test report

The US has made it mandatory for all incoming passengers, including those from India, to carry a negative COVID-19 test report or a proof of recovery from the contagion amidst ... Read more »

COVID-19: India records 2,796 deaths as Bihar reconciles data

India saw a single-day rise of 2,796 fatalities with Bihar carrying out a reconciliation exercise of its Covid data, pushing the country’s death toll to 4,73,326, while 8,895 new infections ... Read more »

PM mesti minta maaf kerana ‘ugut' pengundi Sarawak, kata Ahli Parlimen DAP

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Teo Nie Ching bertanya sama ada Perdana Menteri Ismail Sabri Yaakob mengaku beliau bersikap tidak adil dalam peruntukan Bajet 2022 kepada Pulau Pinang, Selangor ... Read more »

Australia live news update: Victoria and NSW won't close border over Omicron Covid variant; Labor rules out governing with Greens

LIVE – Updated at 04:58 Follow live updates.   04:58 I’m finishing up for today, so I will once again hand over the blog to Nino Bucci! Labor rules out ... Read more »

St. Paul asks to move trial of cops charged with George Floyd murder

Former Minneapolis Police Officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, and Derek Chauvin have pleaded not guilty to charges from the Justice Department for violating Floyd’s right to ... Read more »

Nearly half of the 35 friends that went with Omicron-infected Minnesota man to New York anime convention have now tested positive for COVID-19

The man, who tested positive for the variant after traveling to the convention last month, has told health officials 15 of his friends have since contracted the virusThe group of about 35 gathered at the convention at Manhattan's Javits Center - which drew more than 53,000 people - between Nov. 19 and 21, officials sayIn the days following the event, roughly half the group tested positive for CovidThe strain has since been located in 16 states across the nation, and nearly 40 countries across the globe  Read more »

Why India has reached a cryptocurrency crossroad

© MANJUNATH KIRAN The symbol for Bitcoin is pictured at the entrance of a private office in Bangalore. India’s government is working on legislation that could ban payments using digital ... Read more »

COVID-19: Omicron variant may reduce gap between infection and infectiousness - as UK cases rise to 160

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may shorten the window between infection and infectiousness compared to other strains, new analysis by British scientists suggests. The “reduced incubation period” of Omicron, identified ... Read more »

Desi Man Paid Rs 1000 for 'Chole Bhature' in Sweden and Instantly Missed Home

© Provided by News18 Desi Man Paid Rs 1000 for ‘Chole Bhature’ in Sweden and Instantly Missed Home Desis and their love for chole bhature is nothing new. Whether you ... Read more »

TMC will Sack Workers who Intimidate Candidates from Other Parties, Voters: Abhishek Banerjee

© Provided by News18 TMC will Sack Workers who Intimidate Candidates from Other Parties, Voters: Abhishek Banerjee Ahead of the Kolkata municipal elections on December 19, the TMC has issued ... Read more »

Have you heard of a diabetes-fighting thali? Here's why you MUST nosh on it

Diabetes is no joke. It can affect our life’s quality extensively, if not managed properly through right lifestyle and food changes. While for those suffering from diabetes, the broader eating ... Read more »

Dyson splits with Malaysia supplier, stoking concern over migrant worker treatment

By A. Ananthalakshmi and Liz Lee © Reuters/A. ANANTHALAKSHMI Security guard stands near the gate of Dyson office in Senai JOHOR BAHRU, Malaysia(Reuters) – A short drive across the border ... Read more »

How to get the Diabolos Wings in Final Fantasy XIV

© Provided by GamePur You’ll be hunting down several items, equipment, and unique minions to add to your collection as you work your way through Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker expansion. ... Read more »

New boss Ralf Rangnick has simple solution to help fast track success at Man Utd

New Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has an easy solution at his disposal should he look to cut corners and achieve success at his new club between now and the ... Read more »

‘Goli Beta Masti Nahi': Taarak Mehta's Sonu Aka Nidhi Bhanushali Poses With Kush Shah Holding a Broom, Fans React to Funny Photo

© Kritika Vaid Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’s Kush Shah Poses With Sonu Aka Nidhi Bhanushali With a Broom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (TMKOC) has been one of the ... Read more »

Vicky Kaushal Is Set To Lose His Eligible Bachelor Status Soon, Check Out His Dapper And Sexy Pictures

Vicky Kaushal is in news for his impending wedding to Katrina Kaif. Here’s a look at his dapper photos. (Image: Instagram) Vicky Kaushal looks smart in the pinstripe blazer and ... Read more »

Arjun Kapoor calls himself 'selfie king' while on Maldives vacay with Malaika; Parineeti Chopra has a request

© Provided by Pinkvilla Arjun Kapoor and Malaika Arora are busy vacationing in the Maldives and dropping some serious holiday goals. The lovebirds, who usually like to keep things private, ... Read more »

Samantha talks about letting go and acceptance after her split with Naga Chaitanya

Samantha has been sharing inspirational quotes on her Instagram page. Samantha is going through a divorce, but that doesn’t stop her from spreading positive affirmations on social media. Especially after ... Read more »

Anupamaa Big Update: MaAn chemistry to intensify, Anu and Anuj to get an OST [Exclusive]

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Anupamaa show is getting more and more interesting and intriguing with each new episode. The relationships within the show are so volatile that if one had ... Read more »

UAE weather: Fair to partly cloudy; temperature drops to 14°C

© Provided by Khaleej Times Photo by M. Sajjad The UAE may experience some bouts of humidity on Sunday, but for the most part, residents can look forward to a ... Read more »

Umno tidak mungkir janji, PAS pula jangan tinggalkan MN kerana Bersatu, kata Tok Mat

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Mohamad berkata walaupun pada dasarnya penubuhan Muafakat Nasional adalah untuk memayungi semua orang Melayu, namun penyertaan mereka perlu selari dengan kepentingan dan realiti politik ... Read more »

Britons can achieve the ‘perfect' retirement - use ‘free money' for your goal

Retirement can be costly, especially as people are spending a higher proportion of their adult lives retired than ever before. As a result, it will be important to plan ahead ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic