The party of politicizing everything

Posted by Marc Hodak on April 11, 2016 under Governance, Politics | 2 Comments to Read

Oh, I'm a man of principle. You just have to guess what that principle is.

Democrat senators, the folks lamenting the hyper-politicization of certain Presidential appointees, have turned on President Obama’s nominees. They are simply refusing to fill out the short-handed Securities and Exchange Commission until the nominees pledge to implement a requirement that all corporations submit their spending to public scrutiny. Senator Schumer is one of the peeved politicos:

Schumer said the nominees are “fence-sitting” on whether to force corporations such as Koch Industries to reveal their political giving.

Keep in mind that Koch Industries is a private company, nominally beyond the SEC’s power to force disclosure. That’s how crazy the discussion has gotten regarding regulating political spending.

Why do Senators, particularly Democratic Senators, care so much about this one issue that they would stymie a Democratic President over it? Forget all the bogus arguments about whether corporations are people, or whether money is speech, etc.  The basic fact about political spending is this: incumbent politicians want to control it. The first step in controlling it is knowing about it. The old knowledge that money is power is particularly apt when it comes to politicians knowing who you are supporting, and how much you are giving them. Congress wants not only the power of the purse, they want the power of everyone’s purse. And they get to go for it by decrying greed.

Some Republican politicians are happy to conspire to limit spending on political causes because all regulations on political activity inherently favor incumbents. One of the great, under-reported ironies of the last decade was Senator McCain losing a presidential election because candidate Obama felt he could do better outside of the McCain-Feingold restrictions while candidate McCain was compelled to comply with them.

Since Democrats have an overpowering inclination toward controlling everything, their push to control political spending is much more aggressive. Dodd-Frank mandated that the SEC write rules regarding corporate political spending, but it was one of hundreds of rules, and the SEC is way behind in writing them. And they can’t catch up with just three commissioners. So, the best thing is to let the Democratic-dominated commission get on with its business, right? As Senator Warren has said:

President Obama has done his job – sending…nominees to the United States Senate. Now it’s time for the Senate to do its job.

And as Senator Reid has said:

The American people expect their elected leaders to do their jobs. President Obama is performing his Constitutional duty. I hope Senate…will do theirs.

Actually, what Reid said was that Senate Republicans should do theirs, referring to the President’s appointment of a Supreme Court judge. Senator Warren was also referring to the President’s Supreme Court appointment, but is now one of the ringleaders in stifling the President’s SEC appointments based on the single issue of political spending.

Of course, Senate Democrats don’t own hypocrisy in Congress. But, if they are willing to block nominees, including the exceptionally well-qualified Lisa Fairfax (a brilliant legal scholar that I don’t always agree with), then they have thoroughly given up any high ground with regards to Senate duties and with respect for the Executive.

  • A hold-up of SEC nominees - Overlawyered said,

    […] than promise to vote one way or the other [Stephen Bainbridge, Broc Romanek/Corporate Counsel, Marc Hodak] “The SEC is now down to just three members, two less than its full complement, after two […]

  • The Jackson Press – A hold-up of SEC nominees said,

    […] It flies in the face of the idea that the appropriate frame of mind for commissioners approaching the rulemaking process is to keep an open mind rather than promise to vote one way or the other [Stephen Bainbridge, Broc Romanek/Corporate Counsel, Marc Hodak] […]

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