Senator Schumer, one of the most bitterly partisan progressive hacks in the Congress, gave a speech on the U.S. Senate floor reminiscing something out of the Third Reich. The subject being debated: the DISCLOSE Act.
The DISCLOSE Act is the legislation Democrats are attempting to pass in response to the 2010 Citizens United v. F.E.C. decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, when the Court rightly decided that it was unconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent communications by corporations, associations and unions. This did not sit well with the Democrats since the game must be rigged so that their constituents, like the labor unions, are the only organized, powerful force left in the political arena. So, strategically, legislative action was the only avenue left, thus the introduction of the DISCLOSE Act in Congress.
Summary of the legislation reads as follows:
"To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and to establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to spending in such elections, and for other purposes."
The language in the DISCLOSE Act include banning U.S. corporations controlled by foreign governments from influencing election outcomes through the use of campaign contributions; preventing Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipients from making political contributions; giving shareholders, organization members, and the general public access to information regarding corporate and interest group campaign expenditures; and creating transparency mechanisms for organizations with more than 500,000 members to stand by political ads. Although reasonable sounding, the spirit of the legislation is anything but.
The lightening rod for this misguided legislation being Citizens United ruling, from the beginning, it was purposefully misinterpreted as permitting corporations and unions to donate to political campaigns, or permitting foreign associations to donate to campaigns, or else removing limits on how much a donor can contribute to a campaign. These claims are incorrect, as the ruling did not affect the 1907 Tillman Act's specific ban on corporate campaign donations (as the Court noted explicitly in its decision), nor the prohibition on foreign corporate donations to American campaigns, nor did it concern campaign contribution limits.
Perhaps even more insidiously, the bill may be used for purposes of squashing free speech in the blogosphere if the government deems it necessary. There is specific wording in the Disclose Act relating to communication. In current federal campaign regulations, public communication is defined explicitly to exclude internet communications, which keeps exchanges among citizens on all political blogs from coming under prohibitive campaign speech regulations of the federal government. In the Disclose Act, where the bill addresses what would be covered by a host of the bill's new federal campaign regulations, the term "communication" is used, not "public communication." This means internet communications are not protected, which could eventually lead to posts by bloggers being deemed campaign contributions.
Senator Schumer and his colleques on the left have further demagogued this issue by ignoring all the loopholes carved out for special interests and then proposed changes on the Senate floor to the bill to win over Senator Olympia Snowe, after having drafted the bill behind closed doors with lobbyists. The problems with the bill really started when the House of Representatives added a carveout in the bill for membership groups like the NRA. This move allowed the bill’s opponents to argue that it was the result of a corrupt process and was not a pure transparency initiative. And among the other prominent major groups exempted from disclosing their contributions were, of course, the labor unions which explicitly support the Democrat party to the tune of over $300 million per election cycle.
In his outrageous floor speech on Wednesday, Senator Schumer said:
"I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute. You can’t scream ‘fire’ falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the First Amendment. Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on First Amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality — any semblance of equality in our democracy — of course would be allowed by the Constitution. And the new theorists on the Supreme Court who don’t believe that, I am not sure where their motivation comes from, but they are just so wrong."
It is quite obvious that Sen. Schumer has no regard for either the SCOTUS or the U.S. Constitution. Notice how he is not asking for banning all money and influence of any other type from politics?! That is because he owes his whole existence to those powerful interests that have kept him in the Congress for umpteen years. It is astonishing that Mr. Schumer did not seem bothered by corporate influence as a top recipient of Fannie and Freddie, as well as Wall Street cash ever since his election in 1998, prior to the DISCLOSE Act.
Mr. Schumer and his progressive ilk have continuously demagogued the issue by lying and demonizing corporations and certain (conservative) groups by inventing slogans like 'corporations are not people'. I've got news for you, Mr. Schumer. They have a First Amendment right to political expression as much as any labor union or other entity. And yes, they ARE people. Inanimate objects cannot conduct business - people do. As such, they have the right to express their opinions as much as the next guy does.
As a side note, little did the good Senator realize that the sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had slipped out during the speech to - what else - attend a political fundraiser. I somehow doubt that the irony of that would have escaped the good Senator even if he knew about it!