Does anyone remember the president’s State of the Union Address this past January…the one where he blasted the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case? In case you’ve forgotten, you can review it here.
Basically, the Supreme Court held that the government couldn’t place restraints on the rights of people to express their opinion in, shall we say, “campaign infomercials”, as such restraints violated the First Amendment’s right of freedom of speech. The president, however, “took issue with the decision” (a nice way of saying that the president was flat out wrong in his explanation). The president called the decision,
…a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and other powerful interests.
And, he exhorted Congress to do something about it.
It now appears that Congress is complying. Senator Schumer (D. N.Y.), and Representative Van Hollen (D. Md.) have introduced bills, seemingly drafted by the White House, that, among other things,
…would prevent government contractors and corporate beneficiaries of the Troubled Asset Relief Program from spending money on U.S. elections.
Forgetting for the moment that such a ban is clearly unconstitutional, let’s first focus on the part of the proposal banning government contractors from spending money on elections.
If, as proponents claim, their worry is that a company will use campaign contributions to win government contracts (pay-to-play), why does their bill not show equal concern that labor unions will support candidates with the goal of getting government contracts driven to union companies?
Anyone care to guess which political party is generally supported by oil companies, banks and insurance companies; and, which political party is generally supported by labor? I suppose, then, that it should come as no surprise that between the House and the Senate, only two Republicans are supporting this blatant attempt to stifle the free speech of those thought to disagree with the current administration.