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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Practical Response to Citizens United

Like it or not, and I certainly don’t like it, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has revolutionized the landscape of campaign financing. Corporate political spending, at least on efforts that are separate from specific campaign operations, is now going to be legal. You can rage against the decision, and you can conclude, as I have, that some form of public financing of campaigns is the only way out of this mess. But given the current high levels of hostility to government, this isn’t exactly the best time to ask Americans to support use of taxpayer dollars for political campaigns.
That’s why it’s important that Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have come up with a more practical response to the new reality in campaign finance rules: a bill that would limit the damage wrought by Citizens United without uselessly attacking its core holdings.
As Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent explains, this legislation would fence in the consequences of the Supremes’ dirty work by banning campaign spending by foreign interests or domestic federal contractors; enhancing discloure requirements; tightening restrictions on coordination of corporate political efforts and actual campaigns; and requiring affordable access to media for responses to corporate-backed political ads.
Given the configuration of forces in the U.S. Senate, it’s unlikely this legislation can become law. But it does usefully offer Democrats and campaign finance reformers from every background a line of attack that doesn’t simply rely on calls for public financing.

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