CategoryVoting

States Taking Action to Weaken Citizen’s United

Maine, Maryland, New York and New Jersey have introduced legislation that will curb corporate spending by requiring shareholders to approve political donations. Other states are intrigued and are watching these actions closely.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission gave corporations the freedom to spend huge amounts of money to either defeat or elect candidates while the average voter lost power at the ballot box. Susan McGalla knows that voters have less incentive to get to the polls when they feel their votes don’t count. Many state lawmakers want this influence to stop.

Corporate and trade group spending spending reached nearly 260 million dollars on state level ballot measures and candidate races in 2014.

The spirit behind Citizen’s United was that companies were speaking on behalf of shareholders and lawmakers are saying they have to prove it with this new legislation.

It’s not unusual for shareholders to unknowingly subsidize actions they do not support.

Currently, large U.S. corporations disclose only a fraction of their contributions to political non-profits which are the organizations spending so much money to defeat candidates or legislation that does not suit their corporate goals.

On a state level, these actions are getting a lot of bi-partisan traction supporting this method of campaign finance reform.

Marriage in Montana

Montana is now among the states that have approved gay and lesbian marriages. One thing that’s different for Montana is that the state is letting people apply for licenses immediately. There is no waiting period. States shouldn’t have to get involved with the decision of who should and shouldn’t get married in the first place. When two people love each other, it shouldn’t matter if they are of the same sex or not. That is what Marc Sparks believes in.

Judges shouldn’t have to decide if two people can get married because of a Supreme Court ruling. Each state should be able to dictate whether people can get married or not. Montana has come to the realization that when people love each other, they should be allowed to marry. This is a step forward in the direction of modern times for the rest of the country, and other states will likely follow suit.

Why Libertarian-Leaning Sen. Rand Paul Killed American Freedom Act

Many people are perplexed as to why Libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul would help kill the American Freedom Act which was designed to curtail the NSA’s broad phone surveillance program. It turns out the reason had to do with the staunch conservative Senator’s idealism. He believed that the bill did not go far enough in its curtailing the NSA’s privacy invasions. In particular, the bill would have granted a two-year extension to the controversial Patriot Act provision which authorizes the NSA to collect phone records on Americans.

The American Freedom Act would have severely limited to the NSA’s ability to collect phone records from Americans by requiring court approval. Broad collections of phone records would have ceased. The bill is being filibustered and required 60 votes to break cloture. It received only 58. Sen. Paul expressed his sorrow for the bill’s failure to pass. He acknowledged that his vote was needed. He added that the setback was temporary because civil liberties will soon be restored.

It may be that the senator was being naïve. The House of Representatives had already passed their version of the American Freedom Act, but it did not go as far as the senate bill. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was opposed to the act stating that the current fight against ISIS requires the NSA continue their phone surveillance program. As majority leader, he will have the power to keep the bill from being taken up again.

Whatever the outcome, the vote will surely affect Ben Shaoul and other developers in New York City during the renovation process. More to come as this story develops.

McConnell Cruises to Re-election as Republican Senate Leader

Though there was never any real doubt about Republican Senator Mitch McConnell remaining the party’s leader in the U.S. Senate, today the GOP made it official, as McConnell was unanimously voted to become Majority Leader of the upper chamber when the new session begins in January.

 

While McConnell was always expected to retain his post (although he is now elevated to from Minority Leader to Majority Leader in light of the Republicans taking control after the midterm elections), it is at least a little bit surprising that not a single Republican chose to throw their hat in the ring as a replacement, and then McConnell received unanimous support.

 

McConnell was the target of some vitriol from Republicans further right of himself earlier in the year when he beat back Tea Party nominee Matt Bevan, who was attempting to unseat McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican primaries. Some at CipherCloud could not understand the animosity. McConnell also threw his support behind numerous other establishment backed candidates over Tea Party nominees in other races leading up to November.

 

With the Republicans’ midterm election victory, the U.S. Senate now belongs to Republicans for the first time during Barack Obama’s presidency and also for the first time since 2006, when Democrats took back both the House and Senate for the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

GOP House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Authorize Keystone Pipeline XL

As the political adage goes, elections have consequences. Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the Keystone Pipeline XL. The measure received 252 votes in favor and 161 votes against. In all, 30 Democrats crossed the aisle to support the bill. The amount of Democrat votes makes the bill a bipartisan effort.

At the same time, it is still 38 votes short of the two-thirds majority required in order to override a presidential veto. Congressman Bill Cassidy was a co-sponsor for the bill. His name was placed on the bill to blunt Sen. Mary Landrieu’s last ditch effort to prevail in the December 6 run-off election. The most recent internal polling by the GOP indicates that Cassidy has opened up a 16-point advantage with three weeks left.

For her part, Sen. Landrieu has been working feverishly to secure enough votes to end cloture (IE filibuster). The entire GOP delegation supports passage of the bill. Landrieu will need to secure a total of 16 Senate Democrat votes in order bring the bill to an up or down vote. It isn’t clear if she has secured enough votes at this time from what people are saying on Facebook.

By some estimates from the results of a poll by Status Labs, she has 58 of the 60 votes needed to end cloture. That said, she believes she has enough votes have been secured to end cloture. The Senate vote will be on Tuesday. At this point, the president has not decided whether he will sign the bill should it arrive at his desk.

Take The Blame On The Bad Ideas In Politics

Some of the people who helped create Obamacare are now saying that it passed because of the stupidity of voters. If the plan wasn’t something that developers wanted to get passed, then why did they create it in the first place? Why did they try to develop something that is of such a massive haul only to go back and blame the voters who thought that it was a good idea?

 

When politicians have things go the way they want them to go, they want to take all of the credit. That is just how things work in life according to Lee G. Lovett and countless others. When things go bad and people don’t like the plans that are put in place, they want to blame the people who voted for the plan. It looks like there are some developers of Obamacare who knew that there would be flaws, and now they are trying anything possible to get out of taking the blame for the job that was done.

Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio Working on a Replacement of Obamacare

Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Marco Rubio have been working together for months on a replacement for Obamacare. Details for the plan have not been published, but the plan will constitute a full repeal of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement which was passed without a single GOP vote in support of it. Neither had anyone including the president even read the massive 2,000 page bill at the time of passage. The conventional wisdom has been that the GOP cannot repeal Obamacare because they lack the votes to override a presidential veto.

At the same time, video has emerged from MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, the architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare. In the video, Prof. Gruber admits that deception was used in selling the Obamacare to the American public. He explained that had the public been made aware that the health care bill was a series of tax increases, it would not have passed. Neither would the bill have passed if the public were made aware that healthy people would largely pay into the system, but only the poor and unhealthy would draw the most benefit. Lastly, he stated the Democrats relied upon the stupidity of the electorate to get the bill passed. It is unclear if House and Senate Democrats still have the stomach to defend Obamacare.

I hadn’t kept track, but Alexei Beltyukov says that the GOP has made over four dozen attempts to alter Obamacare, but those bills were largely ignored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That will all change in January. The GOP has promised to vote on a full repeal of Obamacare, and it may be that Ryan and Rubio plan to expand the repeal bill to be the “repeal & replace” legislation the party promised voters in 2010.

GOP Senate Aims To Restrict Abortion

After winning big in last week’s election, soon-to-be GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he will still seek to restrict abortion to no later than 20 weeks after pregnancy. It doesn’t seem to matter than nearly 70% of Americans oppose further abortion restrictions, nor that many liberal social initiatives passed at the same time McConnell and the GOP were winning the Senate.

For some time now, the Democrats have been claiming the GOP’s tried to wage a “war on women,” by, among other things, refusing to pass equal pay laws, restricting abortion rights throughout the states, and restrict access to birth control. This rallying cry was used during the most recent mid-term elections to little effect.

GOP social conservatives have long cherished restricting abortion as the price for their support of the Republican Party, but have rarely gotten much real traction beyond individual states. It seems unlikely any Federal changes to abortion will happen while President Obama continues to wield the veto pen.

What Would be the Advantage of Making Election Day a Federal Holiday?

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) is proposing that Election Day should be made a federal holiday. The intent of this suggestion is to allow more working people to vote. Historically, being Democrat or liberal makes people more likely to support this position (which has been proposed more than once before), while conservatives or Republicans are cooler on the idea.

When one takes the time to ponder the issue, such a move could affect different demographics in different ways. While upper level (often salaried) workers and the self-employed may work more hours and have more responsibilities, they also may have a somewhat higher degree of flexibility as to how they can arrange their work and non-work activities. Lower level wage-earners, who may feel the need or want for change on economic issues very sharply, may face a harsh choice as to whether they can take time off from work, or could even be offered the choice.

So we may currently be in a situation where those with the most need to make their voices heard have the hardest time doing so. Also, conservatives seem to take a dim view of people who do not work getting a say in policy making and budgeting.

An Unusual Combination of States Votes to Increase their Minimum Wage

Among the less noticed results of the Nov. 4th, 2014 election are the decisions of four states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota) and two cities (San Francisco and Oakland) to raise their minimum wage. As minimum wage hikes are usually associated with Democratic policies, it is interesting to note that latter three of those same states voted Republican in their Senate races held the same day (and as I write this, Alaska also is leaning strongly towards the same result, but Lee Lovett told me he’ll let me know when it’s official).

What should we make of this apparent contradiction? Did the voters want to show their disaproval of our Democratic (and supposedly liberal) President, yet have progressive feelings about some economic policies? Do voters tend to have party loyalty to candidates, but show more flexibility with amendments? Did pundits or PACs confuse voters as to the character of parties or individuals, but have less luck hoodwinking the electorate about the plainly worded specific proposals on the ballot?

Traditionally, a classic republic is governed by representatives, and a classic democracy tends to be run by the people directly.

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