OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

Senate debates STOCK Act, dodges real issue of money in politics

February 1, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

The undue influence of corporate money in public policy is at the root of nearly all the major problems facing the U.S. right now, and in the wake of the Citizens United decision it’s only going to get worse. That’s why it was good to hear President Obama call out the “corrosive influence of money in politics” during his State of the Union speech. Unfortunately, his primary call to action doesn’t even address the real issue.

“Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress,” Obama said. “I will sign it tomorrow.”

The Senate has already responded to the request by voting 93-2 to begin debate of the STOCK Act, which would ban Congress from trading for personal benefit based on nonpublic information derived from their official positions.

As a recent 60 Minutes episode made clear, insider trading by Congress is a real problem that should be corrected. Members of Congress should never be given special exemptions from the laws they enact on everyone else. But it has almost nothing to do with how money distorts the political process and prevents Congress from doing its job and serving the public interest.

The corrosive influence of money in politics is rooted in the disproportionate level of political campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures from private interests, the revolving door that lets D.C. elites build up their personal worth by blurring the line between public and private work, and the secretive corporate takeover of elections. These things have made the U.S. Congress a systemically corrupt institution, where bribery is the norm (and perfectly legal) and a pro-corporate bias is ubiquitous. We need systemic fixes to root out the corrosive influence of money in politics. Instead, Obama and Congress are looking at cosmetic fixes to symbolic cases of individual corruption that are both rare and relatively inconsequential.

A key characteristic of systemic corruption is that the system is unwilling to recognize the corruption and, therefore, is not capable of fixing itself. President Obama’s campaign may have calculated that it is politically advantageous for him to be critical of Congress, but the fact is that he has thrived from the revolving door and corporate contributions more than any other politician in U.S. history. Congress is not going to fix itself, and the White House is even further entrenched in the system. Reform has to come from outside of Washington.

Washington has a public relations problem, and Obama and Congress have narrowed in on the STOCK Act as their latest PR strategy. If it becomes law this year, no progress will have been made on the real reason Congress’ approval rating is at a record low — the corrosive influence of money in politics — which is exactly the reason why the STOCK Act is being pursued as the solution in the first place.

UPDATE: Here are a few bills that would be better options for dealing with money in politics:

  • S.750 — Fair Elections Now Act
  • S.219 — Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act
  • S.J.Res.33 — A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.
  • S.J.Res.29 — A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.
Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.
 

Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 45 total comments.

  • jlohman 02/01/2012 9:51am

    The STOCK Act is good but only a small part of the corruption. We ABSOLUTELY MUST get the political bribes out of the system, or our problems will continue. Only public funding of campaigns will achieve that, and only a 100% turnover in November will get that ball rolling.

    Jack Lohman
    http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • byanonymous 02/07/2012 5:25am

    The new features were launching today are the foundation for an effective new platform for citizen engagement with our senators and representatives. Until now, it has not been possible to e-mail all of your members of Congress at the same time from one open-source, not for profit, website—unbelievable right?
    website design | graphic design | brochure design | business card design | clothing design

  • Comm_reply
    zackmiller091 03/26/2012 1:44am

    Great stuff from you man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. jcpenney printable coupons I love what youve got here love what youre saying and the way you say it..

  • Comm_reply
    vishalchohan 04/08/2012 6:05am

    Yes, agreed with your opinion , Obama and the congress should work collectively now to put floppy to usb a stop to Bribe economy. Must work on

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    pauljohn300 12/11/2012 1:49pm

    The corrosive influence of money in politics — which is exactly the reason why the STOCK Act is being pursued as the solution in the first place Musterhaus .

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Comm_reply
    angelic30m 02/08/2012 3:56pm

    This was really so much fun to read. I really do appreciate all of this very cool and helpful information. Debt Solutions

  • Comm_reply
    ruthy30z 02/09/2012 4:39pm

    This was a good article. I think there is many reforms that we need to do to get back on track. This was great. Grass mesh Expert

  • Comm_reply
    brianna37i 02/12/2012 1:46pm

    This was such a great and fun article for me to read. I really love this great and fun information so much. Thanks – Quickbooks hosting

  • Comm_reply
    brianna37i 02/12/2012 1:48pm

    I really have enjoyed this great information so much. This was really very awesome and fun for me to read. Quickbooks hosting

  • Comm_reply
    laurie29p 02/13/2012 7:52pm

    This was really such a great and helpful article to read. I really do appreciate all of this great and interesting information. This was really very cool and fun to read. Doxie Scanner

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • johns889 02/25/2012 6:40am

    Hello,I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.christening gowns for girls// lace bridal gowns// maternity wedding gowns// pink wedding gowns// princess wedding gowns// unique wedding gowns//

  • vikram963 03/01/2012 6:53am

    well, this is really a nice post.I really like the way you start and conclude your thoughts. Thank you so much for this information. keep posting such good stuff.menu printing

  • vikram963 03/01/2012 6:55am

    This was a good article. I think there is many reforms that we need to do to get back on track. This was great. This was really such a great and helpful article to read. I really do appreciate all of this great and interesting information. This was really very cool and fun to read. well, this is really a nice post.I really like the way you start and conclude your thoughts. Thank you so much for this information. keep posting such good stuff.menu printing

  • vikram963 03/01/2012 6:56am

    This was a good article. I think there is many reforms that we need to do to get back on track. This was great. This was really such a great and helpful article to read.href=“http://www.google.html”>zobi //

  • vikram963 03/01/2012 7:01am

    well, this is really a nice post.I really like the way you start and conclude your thoughts. Thank you so much for this information. keep posting such good stuff.menu printing
    menu printing
    menu printing

  • vikram963 03/01/2012 7:01am

    well, this is really a nice post.I really like the way you start and conclude your thoughts. Thank you so much for this information. keep posting such good stuff.menu printing
    menu printing
    menu printing
    menu printing
    menu printing
    menu printing

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

  • Spam Comment

Due to the archiving of this blog, comment posting has been disabled.