Get out of town for a couple days over Thanksgiving and all sorts of interesting political reform and centrist chatter erupts:
1 – Excellent opinion in Politico magazine “Which side of the barricade are you on?” by smart Dem. strategist Doug Sosnick lays out a compelling argument for the rising political populism on both right and left that could swamp the D/R traditionalists if they don’t adapt.
2 – I’ve never argued for strict federal limits on private dollars getting into campaign politics — cash is like water… it’ll find a way to flow no matter the barriers government can put in its way. (There’s also the pesky First Amendment making limited speech a difficult hurdle.) But I will argue that transparency is the key — if you know how much money an individual, company, union is spending to influence a campaign I don’t see much efficacy in limiting those dollars. But the ongoing slight-of-hand trickery of dark money contributed to influence campaigns anonymously via 501(c)4 committees makes no sense. Multibillionaires, corporations, other private organizations contributing unlimited dollars without revealing themselves by giving to so-called “social welfare/education” 501(c)4 organizations are typically thinly veiled partisan campaign organizations. Better to loosen up the contribution limits and instead stiffen reporting rules so there is complete transparency. Give as much as you want — to whatever you want — but you have to instantly reveal your identity and report every penny. (Thus the transparency allows the contributions themselves to become part of the political process.) The Daily Beast had a good summary of the proposed Treasury/IRS revisions to the 501(c)4 code. Hopefully, the IRS will not just simply adjust one code and instead force strict transparency on every political dollar. Otherwise the mother’s milk of secret campaign dollars will simply find another channel to flow to campaigns.
3 – Wash Post reports that Democratic liberals, populists are gearing up for 2016 – What does this mean for the D mainstream’s anointed candidate (Hillary)? The activists are weary of milquetoast liberalism and are ready for more (hello, Elizabeth Warren?).
4 – Politico Magazine (they’re killing it with their early issues) ran a great opinion piece from political curmudgeons/pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen “America’s Crisis of Trust” in which they argue that the hyperpartisanship in Congress is causing Americans to lose faith in their government at an alarming and unprecedented rate — and that it is providing the opportunity for a get-it-done independent, rational centrist candidate/campaign to compete on a national scale.
- IRS Limits Political Activity in Post-Tea Party Flap Rule (bloomberg.com)
- Obama pitches new rules for political nonprofits (politico.com)
- Obama’s Ongoing War on Free Speech (americanclarion.com)
- Watchdog Says the Koch Brothers’ Dark Money Fund Is Bending the Tax Code (theatlanticwire.com)