A Stealth Attack on Democracy

I'm running a little late today, so this one's going to be pretty short. I just want to draw your attention to a piece by Andy Kroll at Mother Jones:

On Wednesday, House Republicans plan to rush to the floor a bill that would eliminate the federal government's presidential financing system—in the process, violating recent pledges by the GOP's leadership of increased transparency and debate in Congress. Not one hearing has been held on the legislation, nor has a single commitee debated its merits. If it passes, it will roll back more than 30 years of law born out of the Watergate scandal, eviscerating one of the few remaining protections stopping corporations from heavily influencing, if not outright buying, American elections, reform experts say.

Democratic lawmakers and campaign finance reformers blasted the bill, not only for seeking to kill public financing but for breaking the GOP's campaign promises on transparency and accountability. "This is a sneak attack on the system," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). "It's a total break from their public pledge for transparency and openness." Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate at Democracy 21, called the bill "a gross abuse of the legislative process."

Now seems like an excellent time to bring up the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe that corporate campaign cash is bribery. A Survey USA poll taken in August found that 77% of respondents, when given a choice between describing corporate money as "free speech" or "bribery," chose "bribery." Clearly, now is the time to make corporate money even more dominant in elections. If most people knew about this, it seems likely that the dominant opinion would be that it was an astonishingly corrupt piece of legislation. No wonder House Republicans put it in stealth mode.

But nearly as bad is the hypocrisy. According to Kroll:

House Republicans' much-touted "Pledge to America" bashed Democrats for "limiting openness and debate" during the legislative process and vowed to "ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square." The Pledge says the GOP "will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government." And in House Speaker John Boehner's first remarks after taking control of Congress' lower chamber, he spoke of a greater emphasis on "real transparency" and "greater accountability." He went on, "Above all else, we will welcome the battle of ideas, encourage it, and engage in it—openly, honestly, and respectfully."

So Republicans will, in the words of their "Pledge to America," "make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings" -- except when they won't. Apparently, they'll only be open about legislation they can be proud of. Shameful bills that people probably won't like will still come in under the radar.

Add this to the fact that the GOP broke several items in their pledge on the first day and you wind up with one undeniable fact -- Republicans are still liars. Imagine my surprise.


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