On the Money: Waiting for McCutcheon

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The Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. Photo Credit: Stock

Will McCutcheon replay Citizens United? | Rules of the game –> Any day now the Supreme Court is expected to rule on McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could deal another serious blow to campaign finance restrictions. Roll-Call’s Eliza Newlin Carney explains this latest challenge to the constitutionality of limiting the amount of money any one donor can give to candidates or parties in an election cycle. In Citizens United the court concluded that unlimited spending by corporations and unions wouldn’t corrupt politicians as long as it came from outside groups that weren’t coordinating with the candidate or the party. “The question now,” writes Carney, “is whether the high court, having freed outside groups to spend record sums of unrestricted soft money in campaigns, will also extend that invitation to political parties — and the politicians who run them.”

Koch World 2014 –> In 2012 the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch raised $400 million to attack President Obama and congressional Democrats. To prepare yourself for their next act, read Politico’s Ken Vogel reporting on the Koch brothers’ ever-expanding political operation. Koch affiliates are now raising money and planning to recruit candidates who will help shape their desired policy outcomes. Vogel explains that the Koch empire has a new strategy: “That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.”

Unemployment benefits’ big bang for the buck –> After listening to President Obama speak about income inequality, unemployment and economic growth in the State of the Union address, Mother Jones’ latest charts are a must see. Jaeah Lee, Tasneem Raja and Brett Brownell show that spending on unemployment benefits and food stamps has a much greater return on investment overall than tax cuts. Among the economists they quote is Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who explains how this type of spending trickles up, giving the overall economy an added boost.

Why the climate needs its own tea party –> The League of Conservation Voters wants its money back. In 2012 it donated $5,000 to Rep. William Enyart (D-IL) who convinced the League that he supported the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of power plant carbon emissions. Last week, Enyart signed on as a cosponsor of the Electricity Security and Affordability Act which would block the EPA’s new rules limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants. In response, the League sent an angry letter to Enyart, a freshman congressman, demanding a refund. Ben Adler, writing for Grist, thinks it’s unlikely that the sum of $5,000 will reverse Enyart’s decision. But he thinks that the left can take a page from the tea party and threaten to launch a national effort to “primary” him.

Gail Ablow is a producer for Moyers & Company and a Carnegie Visiting Media Fellow, Democracy.
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