As Senate Democrats come back from another long hot summer, one would think that their focus would be our struggling economy and job creation. But even though the unemployment rate is stuck at 9.6 percent, Senate Democrats’ main focus is not jobs; it’s President Obama and Senator Schumer’s crusade against the First Amendment. Senator Schumer and other anti-First Amendment Democrats have floated the idea of resurrecting the DISCLOSE Act during this work period. Senator Schumer failed back in July when he brought this ill-conceived legislation to the Senate floor, and now he is going to try again while Americans are still looking for work.
The deceptively named DISCLOSE Act is not about meaningful campaign finance reform. In drafting the bill, the Democratic Party’s leadership played politics with the First Amendment by providing unfair carve-outs to special interest groups that could have marshaled support against incumbent Democrats this November. This is why people outside the Beltway are fed up with Washington. Democrats are again just looking out for themselves and are conniving with special interests so they can hold onto power.
America’s campaign finance laws are already far too complicated. As the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United v. FEC, the “FEC has adopted 568 pages of regulations, 1,278 pages of explanations and justifications for those regulations, and 1,771 advisory opinions since 1975.” It is nearly impossible to navigate this draconian system without the aid of an attorney. The DISCLOSE Act would only add to this problem. Senator Schumer wants to limit free speech, because he does not want the American public to know what really is going on in Democrat-controlled Washington, DC.
Now we’ve learned that Senator Schumer is so desperate to pass the incumbent protecting DISCLOSE Act, that he is willing to negotiate away the provisions that he and President Obama have argued are most essential. Yet again, in backroom deals, lacking the openness and transparency that had been promised to the American public, Schumer is seeking to rewrite his legislation in hopes of attracting the support of moderate Republican Senators like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown. Even Senator John McCain, one of the Senate’s most vocal proponents of overbroad campaign finance restrictions, has refused to support this flawed legislation.
Why would Senate Democrats, who are in danger of losing their majority, focus on legislation that would not create one single job (except at the Federal Election Commission)? Because they want to protect President Obama and Democrats from the American voter. With our country’s debt over $13 trillion, a failed stimulus plan, and what was billed as the “Recovery Summer” by the White House, the Democratic agenda has produced nothing to help the economy. Senator Schumer, who was once Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, knows full well that the Democrat slogans of “Hope and Change” have fallen flat and this November the American public will hold them accountable.
Congress can boost the economy by extending the Bush Tax Cuts. However, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are steadfastly against that solution because it goes against their liberal philosophy. Small businesses need to be able to plan for the future, and not knowing if their tax bill will be going up prevents them from hiring new workers. It is fair to have a debate on this issue, but again Senator Schumer wants the United States Senate to focus on the DISCLOSE Act.
In the end, the Democratic majority sets the agenda for Congress. I had hoped they would finally focus on creating jobs for the American people. Instead, their top priority appears to be the passage of an unconstitutional campaign finance bill aimed at protecting their own jobs. It is no wonder that according to a recent Rasmussen poll 66 percent of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Democrats are just playing politics as usual.
David N. Bossie is the President of Citizens United.