Melissa Harris-Perry on Money in Politics
May 2, 2012 1 Comment
Over the weekend, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show looked at the issue of money in politics. Harris-Perry was joined by “youth engagement consultant” Jessy Tolkan, Politico’s Abby Phillip, columnist Mona Eltahawy, and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer.
Roemer, who was running in the Republican presidential primary and is now running for the Americans Elect and Reform Party nominations, was first out of the gate:
We ought to know where the money’s coming from — full disclosure — and we ought to be concerned when it comes in overwhelming amounts from a few special interests. Washington DC is not just broken, in my opinion, it’s bought.
Roemer criticizes Barack Obama for the number of fundraisers he has been to, and I think it’s a good point to make I would love to see the time and effort spent on fundraising come down. I would much rather have the president working on policy than on rubbing elbows with the well-to-do.
Still, it’s hard to see how Obama can afford to disarm unilaterally, particularly with forces such as the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove’s billionaire-backed Super PAC American Crossroads spending against him. Tolkan disagrees, and suggests that Obama could “not fight fire with fire.” She doesn’t say how. She does suggest that people pool their money to support the best candidate, and I agree with that, but it can’t be the complete solution as big money still buys big influence.
When looking at the influence bought by donations, Phillip brings up the rise in outside donations to local campaigns. Harris-Perry points out that groups that can’t contribute money, such as broke college students, don’t get bailed out of their loans, whereas financial powerhouses like GE can give the big bucks, and get away with paying low-to-no taxes. She also cites data showing that people are less likely to vote due to Super PACs. Tell me again how the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United is good for democracy?
Full disclosure seems like a good start. Public financing of campaigns would also seem to be in the public interest. What are the other solutions?