28th January 2013

Post reblogged from Politicalprof with 72 notes

How Campaign Finance Reform Makes Congress Wealthier

politicalprof:

But it’s not what you think …

So here’s the deal. Congress is filled with millionaires. Lots of them, And the new Congress is no exception: it’s packed with lots of millionaires.

At the same time, people running for office have to raise millions of dollars to have a credible chance of winning (assuming they’re not running in a safe district with no opposition). Two Congressional races near me cost over $6 and $8 million dollars, respectively, factoring in the SuperPAC money. (Neither was in an expensive media market.) That’s a lot of cash coming in.

Ipso facto, then: raising money might make one rich. Take the money you raise, put it in your pocket … millionaire status awaits!

Except that’s not really what happens. Ironically, the rise in the percentage of millionaires in Congress over the last 30 years is as much a function of the laws governing campaign finance in the US as of anything else.

Here’s the deal: under federal campaign finance law, candidates for federal office who raise money for their campaigns can only raise fairly small amounts of money at a time. Right now, individuals can give a candidate to federal office up to $2500 in the primary, and another $2500 in the general election. (This may sound like a lot to you, but a maximum $2500 contribution is .0003% of an $8,000,000 campaign.) The rules are different for SuperPACs, which is why they exist. But any individual contribution is small relative to the overall cost of a campaign.

The reason for this is simple: if the relative significance of any individual contribution is small, then the likelihood of it leading to political corruption is low. If I say “vote my way or I won’t give you $2500!,” you can laugh me off—you don’t need my money that badly. 

However, the small relative size of any individual contribution means that a candidate has to spend a huge amount of time raising money. (The SuperPACs may change this, but haven’t yet.) It’s an enormous drag on a candidate’s time. Indeed, once elected it’s an enormous drag on elected officials’ time: they spend a huge chunk of their time fundraising for their next election. If they’re a party leader, they also spend a lot of time fundraising for others in their party. It has become the most time-consuming thing elected officials do—even more than legislating.

The thing is, if you’re rich already, you can sidestep most federal campaign finance rules. If you don’t raise any money, but instead just spend your own, there really aren’t many limitations on what you can do. You can spend as much as you wish, rather than being limited by what you can raise. You don’t have to spend any time fundraising, eliminating a major hassle AND freeing up your time to go around shaking peoples’ hands and otherwise engaging in real electoral politics. 

In other words, since you don’t have to go around asking people to give you their money, you don’t have to do anywhere near the same kinds of things that non-wealthy candidates have to do to get themselves a serious chance of being elected.

Of course, rich candidates don’t always win. Neither does the best-financed candidate. But the simple fact is that it is easier to get elected to Congress today if you’re already rich than it is if you’re not. One reason for this is the way campaign finance law works. Thus a law passed (in 1974) to protect us from political corruption has also helped the rich get elected to the offices from which they pass laws eliminating the estate tax, reducing (or eliminating) taxes on capital gains and other income they earn, and the like.

Which lots of people think is corrupt.

Welcome to my favorite political topic: irony in politics. 

 image

I’d like to point out one other thing: Running for office is a full time volunteer gig. Wealthy people tend to have the sorts of jobs and resources that allow one to go without income, or with a severely reduced income, for an extended period of time. Let alone the kinds of jobs where you can take a year long break and then come back to work.

Tagged: politicselections

10th January 2013

Photo reblogged from The New Yorker with 114 notes

newyorker:

In today’s Daily Comment, Steve Coll argues that putting an end to gerrymandering would help to build a better democracy by fully enfranchising voters:

…the House Republicans’ check on Obama’s power is not truly democratic; indeed, it is based on extreme ideas that would be marginalized if not for the creative drawing of districts.

Continue reading: http://nyr.kr/UO4r1f

Every time someone blames gerrymandering for the pickle we’ve found ourselves in for governance, I vomit a little. 

newyorker:

In today’s Daily Comment, Steve Coll argues that putting an end to gerrymandering would help to build a better democracy by fully enfranchising voters:

…the House Republicans’ check on Obama’s power is not truly democratic; indeed, it is based on extreme ideas that would be marginalized if not for the creative drawing of districts.

Continue reading: http://nyr.kr/UO4r1f

Every time someone blames gerrymandering for the pickle we’ve found ourselves in for governance, I vomit a little. 

Tagged: PoliticsGerrymanderingRedistrictingCensusDemocracyElections

1st January 2013

Photo reblogged from with 290 notes

Makes me want to hit myself in the face. Repeatedly.

Makes me want to hit myself in the face. Repeatedly.

Tagged: TaxesPolitics

1st January 2013

Photo reblogged from apsies with 507 notes

apsies:

Joe Biden: The Most Influential Vice President in History? - Michael Hirsh - The Atlantic


The previous two vice presidents, Cheney and his predecessor, Al Gore, significantly changed that power dynamic. But on Biden’s watch the “OVP” — Office of the Vice President — has become something even more: almost a conjoined twin to the presidency, organically linked and indivisible from the Oval Office. Cheney succeeded for a time by creating a kind of shadow presidency, yet there’s nothing shadowy about Biden. Indeed Biden remains, in many respects, the anti-Cheney.

apsies:

Joe Biden: The Most Influential Vice President in History? - Michael Hirsh - The Atlantic

The previous two vice presidents, Cheney and his predecessor, Al Gore, significantly changed that power dynamic. But on Biden’s watch the “OVP” — Office of the Vice President — has become something even more: almost a conjoined twin to the presidency, organically linked and indivisible from the Oval Office. Cheney succeeded for a time by creating a kind of shadow presidency, yet there’s nothing shadowy about Biden. Indeed Biden remains, in many respects, the anti-Cheney.

Tagged: Joe Bidenpolitics

23rd December 2012

Post reblogged from Ari Kohen's Blog with 374 notes

Meet the Press

kohenari:

What do you do — how do you have any sort of conversation at all — when “fact” doesn’t mean the same thing to both people?

LaPierre: You could do what Dianne Feinstein wants and ban all high-capacity magazines, but it’s not going to make kids any safer… I get calls from gun owners saying I went to bed safer because I have a firearm…
David Gregory: That’s an argument, not a fact.
LaPierre: It IS a fact.
Gregory: No, a feeling is not a fact. That’s reassurance, not evidence.

We absolutely live in the darkest timeline.

Tagged: LaPierregunsNRApoliticsmedia

Source: kateoplis

17th December 2012

Link with 5 notes

RIP Daniel Inouye →

In addition to him being the President Pro Tempore, he was also Chair of Senate Appropriations. So somebody’s going to have to replace him, right? Because Appropriations is kind of really important, especially with this whole fiscal cliff business and further long term issues about how we think about paying for things. I think it should be Barbara Mikulski.

Why? Barbara Mikulski is a lot of really great things:

  • Most senior senator who isn’t a full committee chair or ranking member
  • Most senior woman senator
  • longest serving woman senator ever
  • longest serving woman in the history of Congress

Not that Senate Democrats need help reminding the country that women have an important place in our politics, but any chance to remind everybody of that is probably smart.

Of course, the other person who makes sense for the job is Dick Durbin. If I were a betting duder, I’d put my money on him based on his leadership position (he’s the Majority Whip) and his work with the Gang of Six and Simpson-Bowles Commission. Also he’s my Senator and I like the guy.

But Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski sounds pretty nice to me.

Tagged: Daniel InouyeUS SenatePoliticsYeah I really do sit around all day thinking about the senatenews

14th December 2012

Quote reblogged from with 54 notes

The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.

President Barack Obama during an interview with Noticias Univision 23

ABC News

(via brooklynmutt)

Tagged: Politics

10th December 2012

Photo reblogged from with 39 notes

brooklynmutt:

Yale scientists name Obamadon, a slender-jawed lizard after the President
Read: Boston.com

Yo Obama so cold he got his own dinosaur.

brooklynmutt:

Yale scientists name Obamadon, a slender-jawed lizard after the President

Read: Boston.com

Yo Obama so cold he got his own dinosaur.

Tagged: PoliticsScienceLizards

5th December 2012

Quote reblogged from ShortFormBlog with 31 notes

There is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old.

Sen. Marco Rubio - During an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen, which briefly focused on comments the Florida Republican made during a GQ interview last month. Some were confused by the Senator’s answer when asked about the planet’s age, and many readers were left unsure as to exactly what the Republican believed himself. Rubio says he was simply trying to acknowledge those who have a hard time accepting data which seems to fly in the face of their religious teachings, but wanted to be clear that he knows there is “no scientific debate.”  source (via shortformblog)

Guess who’s confused?

Tagged: PoliticsScienceEarthMarco RubioTheology

30th November 2012

Link with 1 note

Some additional context on today's (non)announcement from the Supreme Court →

Tagged: politics

29th November 2012

Post reblogged from The Political Notebook with 476 notes

Palestinian observer status bid voting breakdown: The NO votes

thepoliticalnotebook:

  • Canada, 
  • Czech Republic
  • Palau
  • Nauru
  • Micronesia
  • Marshall Island
  • Panama
  • US
  • Israel

This is an important list.

Tagged: newspoliticspalestineunga

26th November 2012

Photo reblogged from ShortFormBlog with 38 notes

shortformblog:

Get ready for Round 2… source

Just want to point out that today’s ruling doesn’t mean anything for the likelihood that SCOTUS is going to hear this case.

shortformblog:

Get ready for Round 2… source

Just want to point out that today’s ruling doesn’t mean anything for the likelihood that SCOTUS is going to hear this case.

Tagged: PoliticsSupreme CourtSCOTUSAffordable Care ActObamacareFourth Circuit Court of Appealssc

21st November 2012

Photo reblogged from The Week with 47 notes

theweekmagazine:

Liberal schadenfreude is about to reach overdose levels. Just when you thought the dead horse of Mitt Romney’s campaign had been beaten more than enough — and most savagely by members of his own party — Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report projects that the final count of the popular vote, which is still ongoing, will show Romney winning 47 percent of the electorate.

Oh god guys I found another bottle of Republican Tears with a really good vintage. And just in time for Thanksgiving!

theweekmagazine:

Liberal schadenfreude is about to reach overdose levels. Just when you thought the dead horse of Mitt Romney’s campaign had been beaten more than enough — and most savagely by members of his own party — Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report projects that the final count of the popular vote, which is still ongoing, will show Romney winning 47 percent of the electorate.

Oh god guys I found another bottle of Republican Tears with a really good vintage. And just in time for Thanksgiving!

Tagged: newselectionpoliticsironyRomneyGOPpresident

21st November 2012

Link reblogged from Politicalprof with 122 notes

Politicalprof: Save the filibuster--kill the hold →

politicalprof:

So it turns out we’re about to have a momentous opportunity to reform American politics, an opportunity for reform that is likely to be both sweeping in effect and easy to implement in practice. Such opportunities come rarely in life. Here’s hoping we take the chance.

The opportunity derives from…

But eliminating holds doesn’t seem like enough. If this Brave New World of relatively united party coalitions continues (and there’s no reason I see for us to believe that it won’t) during the 113th, the opportunity costs to an individual Senator in supporting a filibuster are still pretty low without holds because it’s easy to envision a situation where the minority agrees to put up all of the procedural barriers and take collective responsibility for it. Certainly, only taking away holds takes a tool out of the minority’s toolkit; but I don’t see how continuing on with our current conception of the filibuster, only without anonymous holds, does much of anything.

I’m personally in favor of Sen. Merkley’s reforms, but I’m sure that others could come up with some set of new rules that manage to allow the Senate to function better as a legislative body while maintaining some capacity for the minority to exert a substantive role in shaping the conversation.

Tagged: Politicsfilibusteranonymous holdsenateAmerican national politics

10th November 2012

Photo reblogged from Ari Kohen's Blog with 678 notes


Which voters waited on long lines to cast their ballots on Tuesday? According to a survey by the AFL-CIO, Obama voters were much more likely to wait on lines longer than 30 minutes than Romney voters, with blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable.
The long lines were so bad, it took just two minutes for President Obama to mention them in his victory speech on Tuesday, with a rare flash of anger: “By the way, we have to fix that.”

Butbutbut there isn’t racially motivated voter suppression anymore! 

Which voters waited on long lines to cast their ballots on Tuesday? According to a survey by the AFL-CIO, Obama voters were much more likely to wait on lines longer than 30 minutes than Romney voters, with blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable.

The long lines were so bad, it took just two minutes for President Obama to mention them in his victory speech on Tuesday, with a rare flash of anger: “By the way, we have to fix that.”

Butbutbut there isn’t racially motivated voter suppression anymore! 

Tagged: democracyelection 2012politicsRomneyObama

Source: upwithsteve