Friday, January 04, 2013

Is Miss McConnell Leading Senate Republicans Down The Obstructionist Path In Return For Campaign Contributions?


Yesterday Kentucky activists and union leaders rallied in front of the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse & Customhouse building in downtown Louisville to bring to public attention the findings of a new Public Campaign Action Fund report that links McConnell’s unprecedented strategy of obstruction in the Senate and his campaign donations from corporations benefiting from such gridlock. The events was organized by the Kentucky AFL-CIO, Progress Kentucky, Communications Workers of America IUE-CWA Local 761, and Common Cause Kentucky.

The Public Campaign report, which asserts that “Kentuckians could rightly wonder whom Mitch McConnell is standing up for in Congress,” provides a detailed analysis of McConnell’s campaign donations over time. The report and its implications provide further justification for the push to reform the Senate rules to cut down on McConnell’s strategy of obstruction for obstruction’s sake. Since Republicans lost the majority in 2006 and Senator McConnell became minority leader in 2007, the Senate has seen a level of filibustering and obstruction that is literally without precedent in the institution’s history.

This isn't the first time the good government reform organization has taken on McConnell's startling and unprecedented corruption. In fact, early last month, in a post entitled McConnell Looks to House for Firewall Against Reform, Kurt Walters helped expose McConnell's anti-democratic strategy to put more power in the hands of plutocrats and further diminish the role of ordinary voters in American governance.
After an election that saw unprecedented amounts of secret money, which left voters in the dark about who was trying to influence their vote, The Hill reports that more and more Republican senators are discussing the need for better disclosure laws.

That leaves Capitol Hill’s biggest booster of big money, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a tough spot. Fearing that his own caucus members might support the modest disclosure measures in the DISCLOSE Act, McConnell recently spoke before the House Republican Study Committee to try to build a firewall against reform.

Back in the Senate, The Hill reports that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former reform champion, have all discussed supporting some version of disclosure legislation in the next Congress to help ease voters’ concerns about big money influence.

In many ways, this merely harkens back to the days when disclosure had about as much bipartisan supports as moms and apple pie, as Public Campaign has noted previosuly. Even McConnell himself is on record saying that: "Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate."

Now, however, McConnell opposes any reforms that might shed light on who is spending money in elections or that would limit the ability of big money special interests to continue to influence Washington. And while he might claim his change of opinion was on First Amendment grounds, it’s worth remembering that unlimited secret money has overwhelmingly benefitted Republicans, and that McConnell once identified the three biggest priorities for building up a political party as “Money, money, money.”

McConnell will likely find it increasingly difficult to fend off sensible reforms to put voters at the forefront of our elections, as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) expressed: “This is one of those issues where the public is with us in enormous numbers and where very significant Republicans are on the record supporting it. So they have to perform some very contorted pretzel configurations to dodge what they’ve said in the past and is obviously the right thing to do.”
This is the executive summary of the Public Campaign Action Fund report on McConnell, released yesterday:
Since Republicans lost the majority in 2006 and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) became minority leader in 2007, the Senate has seen an unprecedented level of filibustering and obstruction. McConnell has been at the helm of a scorched earth policy of blocking nearly every bill and nominee that comes before the Senate, imposing an anti-democratic super-majority requirement to advance any legislation or appointment. This has meant little to no work on a wide range of lingering problems from low job growth to unwarranted tax dollars to oil companies to the highest rates of inequality since the Gilded Age.

This report links the big trends and donors in McConnell’s enthusiastic fundraising career with his willingness to foment legislative dysfunction, which serves to increase his power and enrich his corporate donors while leaving American families to struggle. The eight cases of obstruction examined in this report span several important policies and highly competent judicial and administrative nominees. These cases illustrate how campaign money leads to petty politics and helps explain why Congress has accomplished so little in recent years.

• On the very day debate began on a bill to repeal big oil subsidies, an astonishing $131,500 in campaign contributions passed from the hands of oil donors in Midland, Texas into Mitch McConnell’s re-election war chest. Three days later the bill failed by filibuster.

• Companies that lobbied against bringing jobs back to America and ending tax breaks for offshoring have given McConnell one million dollars to win his elections and look out for their interests. Big donors such as GE, Microsoft, and Exxon Mobil also have billions in untaxed profits stashed overseas.

• Despite once supporting transparency, McConnell has led the effort to block the DISCLOSE Act and keep Americans in the dark about the wealthy people and companies spending millions to help elect Republicans in particular, an essential step in McConnell’s climb to the top spot in the Senate.

• Sen. McConnell took the unusual step of filibustering a district court nominee, former trial lawyer Jack McConnell, who was vehemently opposed by the insurance industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after he won a multi-billion dollar case against lead paint companies, representing the State of Rhode Island. Sen. McConnell has received $1.7 million from insurance interests, and has taken tens of thousands of dollars from the parent company of one of the lead paint companies in the case.
If we had to depend on Steve Israel and his pathetic DCCC to take on McConnell, Miss would be smiling and sitting with a Free Reelection Pass in his back pocket. The DSCC has been more focused-- and far, far, far more successful-- on defeating Republicans, not making deals with them to guarantee their continued tenure.

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At 9:28 AM, Blogger John said...

The protest would have more urgency if it could name maybe 3 senators who are NOT corporate agents.

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Zappatero said...

But now the DSCC has CO's Michael Bennet as its chief. He wouldn't take the job until he got the OK to run moderate Dems - the opposite of what voters just did with a batch of strong progressives.

Oh, and he and Mark Udall hampered Obama from day 1 in 2009 by becoming "Blue Dogs".

Yellow or Running dogs is more like it.


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