Bernie Continues Dragging Hillary Clinton In The Direction Of Progressive Governance
When Bernie announced his candidacy for president, know-it-all DC pundits all agreed he wasn't really serious and it was just a move by progressives to push Hillary Clinton toward crucial and popular progressive positions she would rather not fight with Republicans about. After all, Bernie exhibited none of the megalomania and fanatical House of Cards Frank Underwood drive to be president. And all he ever does is talk about goddam issues, issues, issues... he doesn't play the media games.
Then something funny happened. Tens of thousands of Democratic voters from coast to coast and in the middle and the south started flocking to Bernie and his issues. Funny enough, that threat of actually losing to him is what did push Clinton to start addressing issues-- other than just women's issues, which she is legitimately excellent on-- that are important to Democratic primary voters.
She came up with a (somewhat pale, less robust) imitation of Bernie's proposal to make sure every American can go to a state university or college free. And she even occasionally speaks a toned-down version of the truth about the predatory Wall Street banksters who have been financing her campaign. And yesterday she released a pretty good platform plank about campaign finance reform, long one of Bernie's biggest demands. Watch the two-minute video up top.
Gabriel Debenedetti, writing Monday for Politico, previewed what Hillary did yesterday. He introduced it by making sure readers knew the context: "Kicking off a post-Labor Day push to rally support as Bernie Sanders maintains momentum and Joe Biden contemplates a White House bid of his own, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday will unveil a three-pronged campaign finance proposal that her team hopes will help her appeal to unconvinced liberals."
“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system, and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans,” Clinton said in a statement. “Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee. It starts with overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and continues with structural reform to our campaign finance system so there’s real sunshine and increased participation."
The Democratic front-runner, who raised the most campaign funds of any candidate on either side of the aisle in the second quarter ($47.5 million), regularly rails against the Citizens United decision on the stump, using it as an example of the malfunctioning political system. She also frequently insists that she would use overturning the decision as a litmus test for appointing Supreme Court justices, a line that delights progressive voters, and a point that is included in her new proposal.
But portions of her plan are anathema to Republican candidates and their colleagues in Congress, and Clinton is not the only Democrat making such noises on the campaign trail. Sanders, for example, has also pushed public financing for campaigns.
To further complicate matters, a collection of liberal groups have questioned Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street and its big-money donors due to her time as first lady and as a senator from New York-- not to mention the existence of Priorities USA Action, the primary super PAC backing her bid, which raised $15.6 million in the first half of 2015.
Still, her plan amounts to liberal red meat, hitting a handful of points championed by campaign finance reformers. And it comes as her campaign appears set to fight back more aggressively against Sanders’ surge and the negative headlines about her private email arrangement.
Clinton’s campaign finance proposal includes a plan to provide matching funds for small donations, along with lower limits for contributions to candidates who opt into the system. Campaigns would only be eligible to receive up to a certain level of the public matching funds, and they would have to raise a minimum number of small donations in the first place to qualify. The specific numbers and dollar figures are yet to be determined.
The campaign’s plan, which will come alongside a new video to be released on Tuesday, also formally repeats the candidate’s plan to only appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Citizens United-- a case that was originally brought over an anti-Clinton video in 2008. It also reiterates her support for a constitutional amendment that would “establish common sense rules to protect against the undue influence of billionaires and special interests and to restore the role of average voters in elections."
The third prong of the plan includes a proposal to force outside groups with large political spending budgets to disclose their largest donors in a timely fashion, as well as to disclose “significant transfers between” such groups. It also supports a proposal in front of the Securities and Exchange Commission to force publicly traded companies to disclose political spending to shareholders.