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Obama: We Must Stop the Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy

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By Doug Powers  •  August 21, 2010 05:21 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Here’s the eye-roller of the day from President Obama’s Saturday radio address. This was recorded Thursday at the White House due to a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, which is the perfect command center from where to monitor the Iranians firing up their nuclear reactor (which is being overseen for safety by the people who brought the world Chernobyl — whew!).

Here’s part of Obama’s address:

As the political season heats up, Americans are already being inundated with the usual phone calls, mailings, and TV ads from campaigns all across the country. But this summer, they’re also seeing a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them [the only time we shouldn’t care who’s paying for something is if that something is a mosque near ground zero — DP].

The reason this is happening is because of a decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case – a decision that now allows big corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads – and worst of all, they don’t even have to reveal who is actually paying for them. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don’t know if it’s BP. You don’t know if it’s a big insurance company or a Wall Street Bank. A group can hide behind a phony name like “Citizens for a Better Future,” even if a more accurate name would be “Corporations for Weaker Oversight.”
[…]
Well, we cannot allow the corporate takeover of our democracy. So we’re going to continue to fight for reform and transparency. And I urge all of you to take up the same fight. Let’s challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice or join us in stopping it.

This is a Republic and not a Democracy, but that’s of little importance at this point because we’re getting bilked out of both just so they can be sure.

Naturally, labor unions don’t fall under the “corporations” umbrella, but they do their share of advertising — it’s just that most of it goes toward helping Democrats:

Since 1990, labor unions have contributed over $667 million in election campaigns in the United States, of which $614 million or 92 percent went to support Democratic candidates. In 2008, unions spent $74.5 million in campaign contributions, with $68.3 million going to the Democratic Party. Already, unions have contributed $6.5 million to the 2010 elections, and $6 million has gone to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

In ads sponsored by labor unions it isn’t always obvious that the ad is paid for at least in part by unions either. “Health Care for America Now” is just one example. Watch this ad from the 2008 campaign and see if it’s obvious that it’s paid for in part by the SEIU, AFSCME, NEA and UFCW.

And forget the “corporate takeover” nonsense. Ever since the Supreme Court ruling freed up corporate political spending, labor unions are still out-spending corporations:

Labor unions have dominated spending on independent campaign ads so far this election season, despite a recent Supreme Court decision that freed spending by corporations, a Washington Post analysis shows.

The findings are an indication that corporate money is not flooding into campaigns as many predicted would happen after the landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

So far this year, $24.7 million in independent spending has been reported to the Federal Election Commission, campaign filings show. Unions have spent $9.7 million (or 39 percent of the total), compared with $6.4 million (26 percent) spent by individuals and $3.4 million spent by corporations.

Corporate takeover of America? Doubtful. Government and union takeover? Definitely. Given a choice, give me the corporate takeover — at least they have to be remotely concerned about balanced budgets and at least somewhat responsive to the demands of the general public.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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