‘Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People’: Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics 

‘Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People’: Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics

“You can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”

By Jon Queally

Holding up the small-donor campaign model his campaign has revolutionized as proof alternatives exist, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled an ambitious new plan to get “corporate money out of politics.”

The Sanders plan aims to end the corrupting influence of dark money by dramatically curbing the ability of corporations to dominate giving to political parties, replacing the Federal Election Commission with a new enforcement agency, establishing public funding for all federal elections, and pushing for a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that “money is not speech and corporations are not people.”

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president.” —Sen. Bernie SandersThe Sanders campaign said in a statement that the new slate of proposals—which can be read in full here—are designed to end “the greed-fueled, corrupt corporate influence over elections, national party convention, and presidential inaugurations” that currently exists and deliver to the public an election system the puts the America people at the center.

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president,” Sanders said. “We’ve received more contributions from more individual contributors than any campaign in the history of American politics because we understand the basic reality that you can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”

The plan would specifically target corporate giving by banning companies from donating to the Democratic National Convention and related committees, a change that would dramatically upend how the DNC has traditionally operated the quadrennial party gathering.

The proposal would also abolish corporate giving to presidential inaugurations and cap individual donations to $500.

According to the campaign:

Corporate donors spend tremendous amounts of money on inaugural events. In 2016, Trump’s inaugural donors included AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Coca Cola, Pepsi, and many more. Private Prisons also shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for Trump’s inauguration. And this is nothing new, Corporate donors to the 2013 inauguration included Microsoft, Boeing, Chevron, Genetech, and numerous federal contractors. Many of these corporations have federal contracts and business that comes before Congress. It is absolutely absurd that these entities are allowed to spend enormous sums of money in an attempt to garner favor with the president and vice president of the United States.

Sanders outraised all his Democratic rivals for the presidential nomination in the last quarter by bringing in $25.3 million, with an average donation of just $18. In September, the campaign announced it had received donations from one million different people so far in the campaign, with teachers, Walmart employees, and other blue collar workers making up the most represented donors.

In its statement announcing the new plan Monday, the campaign outlined other key elements of the ‘Corporate Money Out of Politics Plan‘ which includes:
  • Enacting mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections. 
  • Updating and strengthening the Federal Election Campaign Act to return to a system of mandatory public funding for National Party Conventions. 
  • Passing a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people.
  • Ending the influence of corporations at the DNC.
    • Banning donations from federal lobbyists and corporations. 
    • Institute a lifetime lobbying ban for National Party chairs and co-chairs.
    • Banning chairs and co-chairs from working for entities with federal contract, that are seeking government approval for projects or mergers, or can reasonably be expected to have business before Congress in the future. 
  • Banning advertising during presidential primary debates.
  • Instituting a lifetime lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior staffers.

As the Washington Post notes, Sanders’ plan to replace the FEC—which his campaign describes as “now-worthless”—with a new agency signals a bold shift:

Sanders envisions [a Federal Election Agency] made up of three members with legal backgrounds who serve terms long enough to ensure no president could appoint the entire committee at any one time. The FEA would have the power to pursue not only civil penalties but also criminal charges against those violating campaign finance laws.

Many Democratic candidates have criticized the FEC as toothless in the course of the campaign, though Sanders is the only one to call for its complete retooling. Sanders’s plan also attacks corporate influence in politics by banning former members of Congress and senior staffers from future lobbying endeavors. 

The proposal is an indication that Sanders’ vision to fix American democracy goes far beyond “structural reforms” by targeting what he perceives as the rot at the center of the system: corporate greed and massive political power seized by the multinational corporations and the extremely rich.

A large part of the proposal includes leveling the playing field by putting working class people at the center of primaries and elections by boosting public funding. In order to combat “the outsized influence large corporate donors have on candidates,” the campaign argues, the U.S. must move to publicly fund federal elections in order to neutralize the corrupting influence of corporate donors and the uber wealthy.

Sanders argues that his grassroots campaign proves that not only that it can be done successfully, but that the people are hungry for it.

“Working people all over the country are responding to that message and demanding a political revolution through their small dollar donations,” Sanders said on Monday. “When we win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump, we will transform our political system by rejecting the influence of big corporate money.”

 

Source: ‘Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People’: Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics | Common Dreams News

‘Extremely Dangerous’: Trump Tweet Calling Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Coup’ Heightens Fears of Refusal to Leave Office 

‘Extremely Dangerous’: Trump Tweet Calling Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Coup’ Heightens Fears of Refusal to Leave Office

“The orderly transfer of power in the United States has always depended on the active cooperation of the outgoing president. What happens if that cooperation is not forthcoming?”

By Jake Johnson

Days after amplifying a right-wing pastor’s warning of a “Civil War-like fracture” if he is removed from office, President Donald Trump late Tuesday said the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats is a “coup,” heightening fears that Trump could refuse to allow a peaceful transition of power if he is ousted by Congress or defeated in 2020.

“As I learn more and more each day,” the president tweeted, “I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!”

“Trump’s ‘coup’ language isn’t an errant presidential tweet, it’s an official Trump administration talking point that multiple top aides have rolled out on state TV today.”
—Matthew Gertz, Media Matters

Observers reacted with alarm to Trump’s tweet and said it should not be treated as a typical online outburst from the president.

“This is extremely dangerous,” Matthew Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters, said, pointing out that Fox News hosts and contributors have been aggressively pushing the “coup” narrative in recent days.

“Trump’s ‘coup’ language isn’t an errant presidential tweet,” Gertz added, “it’s an official Trump administration talking point that multiple top aides have rolled out on state TV today.”

Historian Angus Johnston asked in response to Trump’s tweet: “What happens when he tweets something like this the day after he loses re-election?”

“The orderly transfer of power in the United States has always depended on the active cooperation of the outgoing president. What happens if that cooperation is not forthcoming? The answer—the day-to-day answer for November and December 2020 and January 2021—isn’t obvious,” Johnston said. “Tweets like tonight’s crank up the costs of breaking with Trump, but they also underscore the fact that there’s no guarantee that waiting him out will be an effective alternate strategy.”

Concerns that Trump could resist leaving office if ousted by the constitutional process of impeachment or defeated in the 2020 election are not new. Trump has repeatedly suggested on Twitter and during campaign rallies that his term should be extended to compensate for the time “stolen” by the Mueller investigation.

“This is not a drill, and there is no reason to believe Trump will go quietly if he is defeated,” wrote The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan in a column in March. “There is every reason, however, to believe he and his allies will incite hysteria and even violence. Those who assume otherwise haven’t been paying attention.”

In the days since House Democrats formally began their impeachment inquiry last month, Trump has rapidly escalated his hysterical attacks on political opponents and the whistleblower who raised alarm about the president’s call with Ukraine’s leader.

Last week, Common Dreams reported, Trump suggested the person who provided information about Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president is a spy and a traitor should be executed. On Sunday, Trump warned of “big consequences” for the whistleblower as the anonymous individual’s lawyers said the president’s attacks have put the person’s safety at risk.

On Monday, Trump asked whether Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, should be arrested for “treason,” a crime punishable by death.

Following the president’s “coup” tweet Tuesday night, Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, said “the logical conclusion of this nonsensical statement is that the military should step in, save Trump, and arrest Trump’s political opponents.”

“Let that sink in,” Parsi added.

Source: ‘Extremely Dangerous’: Trump Tweet Calling Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Coup’ Heightens Fears of Refusal to Leave Office | Common Dreams News

“It’s a Criminal Enterprise”: Calls to Impeach Barr Intensify After Reports AG Pressured Foreign Officials to Help Discredit Mueller Probe 

“It’s a Criminal Enterprise”: Calls to Impeach Barr Intensify After Reports AG Pressured Foreign Officials to Help Discredit Mueller Probe

“Barr decided a long time ago that he was going to be a fixer for Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.”

By Jake Johnson

Calls for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to be impeached alongside President Donald Trump intensified late Monday in the wake of reports that Barr has pressured British, Italian, and Australian intelligence officials to help the administration discredit former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The Washington Post reported Monday night that Barr in recent weeks “has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”

“Trump is committing crimes from the Oval Office. He must be impeached—and every single person involved must be held accountable.”
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Just last week, according to the Post, Barr traveled to Italy to urge that country’s intelligence officials to assist the inquiry into the Mueller probe.

The Justice Department confirmed in a statement Monday that Barr asked the president to connect him with foreign officials to gather information about the Mueller inquiry.

The Post story came shortly after the New York Times reported that Trump, at Barr’s request, asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a recent phone call to help the U.S. attorney general “gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation.”

“The White House curbed access to a transcript of the call… to a small group of aides,” the Times reported, citing an anonymous official. “The restriction was unusual and similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.”

The new revelations detailing Barr’s close involvement with Trump’s efforts to deploy the resources of the Justice Department for his own personal political interests sparked demands that the attorney general face impeachment proceedings as well.

“This isn’t a presidential administration, it’s a criminal enterprise,” tweeted 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro. “The evidence is clear: both Trump and Barr must be impeached.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, said “Trump is committing crimes from the Oval Office. He must be impeached—and every single person involved must be held accountable.”

Progressives called for Barr’s ouster following news that the Justice Department refused to investigate Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the U.S. president pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

The call and whistleblower complaint it sparked led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into the president.

“I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Zelensky, according to a memo of the call released by the White House. “I’m sure you will figure it out.”

According to the Times, Trump’s conversations with Zelensky and Morrison of Australia show “the extent to which Mr. Trump views the attorney general as a crucial partner: The president is using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived ‘deep state’ enemies, and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins.”

As MoveOn’s Karine Jean-Pierre put it on Twitter Monday night, “Bill Barr decided a long time ago that he was going to be a fixer for Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.”

Source: “It’s a Criminal Enterprise”: Calls to Impeach Barr Intensify After Reports AG Pressured Foreign Officials to Help Discredit Mueller Probe | Common Dreams News