The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Mead Was Nearly Onto Something There

Posted on | October 4, 2011 | 8 Comments

by Smitty

Walter Russell Mead
shoots. . .it rolls around the rim. . .falls out. Sonofa. (Emphasis mine):

For all the brouhaha over the Citizens United decision, however, campaign finance reform was never the ideal way to reduce the influence of special interests on politicians. Despite the howling from the commentariat about “opening the floodgates” of corporate money into politics, I have never been able to see how regulating the ability of people to spend their own money on elections is anything but a violation of the most basic of civil liberties.
That doesn’t mean I’m not worried about the mix of political ambition and corporate self-interest. But it might make more sense to work on this problem from the demand side: reducing the incentive for lobby groups to pump money into politics by reducing the discretionary ability of lawmakers to tinker with the tax system.

I have infinite faith in the capacity of lawmakers, given time and a system, to arrive at a work-around. Thus, I have little faith in the capacity of legislation to bind any Congresscritters.

The real hope would be to minimize the corruption by scaling the system down, and making it as transparent as possible. Scaling down means using the enumerated powers of the Constitution. Making it as transparent as possible means that, short of no-kidding existential threat like Imperial Japan, we Just. Don’t. Run. Deficits.

But no, let’s compromise. If we only smoke just a little crack, maybe the public noggin won’t totally ‘splode.


8 Responses to “Mead Was Nearly Onto Something There”

  1. newrouter
    October 5th, 2011 @ 1:01 am

    get rid of epa get rid of epa lobbyists
    get rid of do ed/en get rid of  do ed/en lobbyists
    get rid of irs get rid of irs lobbyists et al

  2. Anonymous
    October 5th, 2011 @ 1:12 am

    Special Interest n. People who are not me.

    The whole “Special Interest” junk gets really old.  That phrase has lost more meaning than the word raaaaacist.

    The tax code, while an obvious albatross and stupid, is really the least of our problems when compared to regulatory capture.  We have a situation where businesses cannot survive without paying protection money through lobbyists. Somehow, pornography has become sacred via the 1st amendment, but the real reason for it (political speech!) has become a pariah.

    Anyone who thinks that attempting to restrict the Constitutional right to petition the government is doing anything but poking at a symptom (instead of the actual cause) has a thinking deficit. 

  3. Adjoran
    October 5th, 2011 @ 1:37 am

    Sunshine, sunset.

    Maximum transparency is a good thing, but doesn’t always tell us what we need to know.  If a company has a major facility in a guy’s district, their employees are likely to be among his main source of contributions.  But disclosure won’t tell us what regulations he has tried to influence on their behalf – how would this be disclosed, exactly?  And that a firm didn’t oppose regulation of its industry isn’t necessarily a good thing:  bigger companies can meet exacting standards and have the means to comply with all sorts of reporting requirements already, regulations can help them by keeping the little guys from becoming competitive.  Again, no enforceable form of disclosure is going to show us this.

    All laws, programs, and regulations must be subject to sunset laws.  After a limited time, they are either specifically and separately renewed by Congress and signed again by the President, or they lapse.

    One of the frustrating things about federal spending is that even when pure waste is identified, it can be almost impossible to get rid of.  There are still commissions alive and with staff whose mission ended long ago, who have nothing at all to do, but they can’t be cut without an up or down vote and they aren’t big enough individually to bother with.  At least with sunset laws, everything must be approved specifically from time to time.

  4. Joe
    October 5th, 2011 @ 4:37 am

    Sunsets are beautiful. 

  5. Anonymous
    October 5th, 2011 @ 4:56 am

    To get rid of regulations we need to get rid of the regulatory agencies. To get rid of special interest loopholes in the tax code we need to get rid of all of them, every single one, the charitable tax deduction and the mortgage interest deduction the child care credit and the earned income credit. The elimination of ALL deductions would make any new ones remarkable if we are awake and paying attention and care.

  6. Anonymous
    October 5th, 2011 @ 4:59 am

    There are hundreds of those commissions at the state level. If they ever had a purpose the only one they serve now is to create appointments for supporters.

  7. Charles
    October 5th, 2011 @ 5:21 am

    People spending their own money on elections is not the problem. People spending other people’s money is, whether it’s money from publicly-owned corporations or unions. Let the shareholders and union members vote their own pocketbooks.

  8. dad29
    October 5th, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    Making it as transparent as possible

    Also on-line campaign-donation records.