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Guest MINDSETTER™ David Cicilline: Washington is Rigged Against the Middle Class

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

 

Two years ago, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of overturning decades of campaign finance laws and opening the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending to influence the outcome of our elections.

As a result of this decision, Citizens United, Wall Street banks, Big Oil companies, and powerful special interests now have a tighter grip than ever on what happens—or doesn’t happen—in Washington. These powerful forces, with their armies of lobbyists and the ability to spend millions of dollars on elections are fundamentally undermining our democracy at a time when the middle class can least afford it.

Later this month, the nine justices on the Court will revisit their decision in Citizens United when they decide whether to review a 100-year old Montana state law that bans any and all corporate spending on state elections.

The Citizens United decision is a direct threat to the functioning of our democracy. The precedent set in Citizens United to grant powerful special interests the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in campaigns in the name of free speech is allowing them to drown out the voices or ordinary Americans. If the Court ultimately fails to scale back the terrible consequences of Citizens United, Congress must urgently act to reform our broken electoral system.

Without real reform, Washington will continue to protect the interests of the most powerful at the expense of everybody else and we will not meet the gravely serious challenges of our time. This will require the highest level of commitment to resisting the influence of money and getting down to fixing this really broken system.

Think of it this way. If a manufacturer has a faulty machine that is producing a defective product, they have to repair that equipment. It’s the same in Washington. Our campaign finance laws are faulty and, if not repaired, our system of government will remain broken. And while there are many reasons the machinery of government has broken down, unlimited corporate spending on elections has allowed the ultra wealthy to effectively drown out the voices of the middle class in Washington.

How is it possible that at a time when the financial services industry continues to exploit customers, Republicans in Congress would be actively seeking to undermine the new consumer protection agency? Or that House Republicans have proposed drastic budget reductions for the agencies that serve as Wall Street watchdogs, only a few years after the recklessness of financial institutions helped bring our economy to the brink of collapse? Or that the House Republican leadership refuses to put an end to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil companies that are enjoying record profits, even as families are left feeling the pain at the pump?

The answer, in large part, is money.

Powerful special interests and big corporations wield enormous influence over our political system because of their ability to spend unlimited amounts supporting, or opposing, candidates and incumbent elected officials.

It’s time for Congress to act in the interests of the men and women we serve and to finally impose limits on the influence of money in our political process.

First, we need to shine a light on the problem and require full and immediate disclosure of all sources of election spending so that powerful special interests can no longer try to influence our elections in secret. We can accomplish this by passing the DISCLOSE Act, H.R. 4010, which I have co-sponsored in the House.

Second, if the Supreme Court fails again to acknowledge that corporations are not people and keeps open the floodgates of unlimited campaign spending then Congress should immediately take up H.J. Res. 78 and H.J. Res. 88, Constitutional amendments that I have co-sponsored to reverse Citizens United. Corporate money cannot be permitted to drown out the voices of our hardworking middle class.

In addition, the Fair Elections Now Act, H.R. 1404, which I have co-sponsored would reform the way Congressional campaigns are funded – dramatically reducing the ability of corporations and special interests to unfairly influence campaigns and our system of government. This legislation is supported by Common Cause, Public Citizen, and many other reform advocates and it would fundamentally change, in a positive way, our campaign finance laws.

Finally, it’s time to prohibit members of Congress from becoming lobbyists after they leave Congress. Passing my bill, H.R. 3491 will put a permanent ban in place and end the revolving door that elected officials use to move between Capitol Hill and K Street.

If we do these things, we will begin to break the connection between money and politics, make our elections fairer, reduce the power of special interests, and prohibit corporate spending in our elections. We can then expect better results from Washington and more work being done to advance the public interest.

The broken system that exists in Washington today still stands in the way of creating jobs and promoting long-term economic growth. If we want our government to work for the middle class again, we need to have the courage to do what it takes to fix it.

 

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Comments:

Did he pay for this ad?

Comment #1 by jon paycheck on 2012 06 13

Jon,

As I always say, we allow elected officials (and candidates) to write op-eds for us from time to time. We would run pieces by Brendan or Mr. Gemma as well.

We've done the same for numerous state lawmakers throughout the year and will continue to do so. We make it very clear they are writing as "mindsetters," which is our version of an op-ed writer.

Dan
[email protected]

Comment #2 by Dan McGowan on 2012 06 13

Who cares what a two faced, lying little weasel like Cicilline has to say on ANYTHING?? He doesn't tell the truth and nothing he says can be believed, except this part. From the article:

"If we want our government to work for the middle class again, we need to have the courage to do what it takes to fix it.

That statement has merit to it. We've got to vote smarter.

ABC.

Comment #3 by RI Taxpayer on 2012 06 13

What the Congressman fails to inform everyone about is there is money on both sides of the aisle. He also fails to discuss the large amounts of money that come in from public sector unions especially here in RI. Does anyone think that he has not personally benefited? But wait there is more….

Why is it Congressman that it is always not your fault just like the finances in Providence? I seem to remember some of those reckless institutions donating to your campaign. Did you send the money back? In a story back in 2011 this publication stated that “Since 2010, Cicilline has received $84,800 from the Securities & Investment industry.” Yes, David Cicilline continues to collect money from the same institutions he criticizes!

In closing I will use your own quote: “The broken system that exists in Washington today still stands in the way of creating jobs and promoting long-term economic growth. If we want our government to work for the middle class again, we need to have the courage to do what it takes to fix it.” Yes, and we can fix it by voting you out this November as you have done NOTHING to correct it and have spent most of the last two years backpedaling with regard to your lies about the city of Providence.

As a voter in your district (the one that was rigged to move 75,000 voters in redistricting so you would get more support) I find your hypocrisy tiring. How about being transparent for once?

Comment #4 by Michael Napolitano on 2012 06 13

The Congressman also fails to realize that the working, taxpaying, middle class is also being squeezed hard by Democratic special interests in the public sector unions. The financial crises caused by the ticking pension and health benefit time bombs for the public sector have forced municipal tax hikes and service cutbacks that are felt most acutely by the lower and middle classes - but this doesn't exactly fit into the progressive narrative of courageous Democrats fighting an army of plutocrats, now does it?

I would also like to advise the Congressman that he can ease up on his franking privileges - between the letters and robocalls, the Congressman has spent more money to convince me that - no really! - he actually IS doing a great job! - that I'm starting to think that at least he believes he deserves reelection.

Obviously, he hasn't convinced me.

Comment #5 by Roger Williams on 2012 06 13

Davey boy, you know a little about "rigging", don't you?
Kinda like you rigging the books in Prov. to make it look like they were balanced.
He's nothing but a lying piece of sh*t scum bag. I can't wait to see him out of office.

Comment #6 by pearl fanch on 2012 06 13

I support anthony gemma for congress,we need some honesty and integrity in congress and he will create jobs with his jobs plan!

Comment #7 by anthony sionni on 2012 06 13

Cicilline is right! We DO need more transparency in our system, and we need to get all the wealthy, special interests out of the process. I'm glad Cicilline is standing up for those of us who want to make a difference but don't have millions of dollars to give!

Comment #8 by Doug Westport on 2012 06 13

I completely agree with you, Doug.

Cicilline obviously has the right priorities. We're never going to make any real progress until we make sure that elections aren't being decided only by those with the most money.

Thank you Cicilline for helping to make my voice heard.

Comment #9 by Amy Roberts on 2012 06 13

Mike Napolitano - Right on!

Doug Westport - take a good look at the special interest donor to Rep Cicilline

Comment #10 by Michael Byrnes on 2012 06 13

Cicilline is right, special interests are killing this country and FUNDING HIS CAMPAIGN. More LIES and HYPOCRISY from the one term Congressman.

Top 20 Contributors to the Liar in 2012

1 Waterson Terminal Services $22,500
2 Gilbane Inc $12,750
3 AmeriPAC: The Fund for a Greater America $11,000
3 Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund $11,000
5 Raytheon Co $10,821
6 B&D Holding Di Marco Drago e C Sapa $10,750
7 Carpenters & Joiners Union $10,000
7 PAC to the Future $10,000
7 Rhode Island Hope PAC $10,000
7 United Food & Commercial Workers Union $10,000
11 Human Rights Campaign $9,916
12 Gilbane Building $9,000
12 Laborers Union $9,000
14 Goldman Sachs $8,600
15 American Assn for Justice $7,000
16 Weil, Gotshal & Manges $6,500
17 CVS/Caremark Corp $6,000
17 Honeywell International $6,000
17 Kraft Group $6,000
17 National Amusements Inc $6,000

Cicilline cannot stop lying; it is incredible.

Comment #11 by David Allen on 2012 06 13

Anthony,
Why are you having such difficulty understanding this?

Electing one democrat to replace another democrat, has been going on for over 70 years in RI......AND IT DOESN'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!

Be a rebel, pull the republican lever!!!

Comment #12 by pearl fanch on 2012 06 13

The "powerful special interests" also include labor unions, especially in RI. If we are going to stop corporations from spending money on campaigns, we need to stop the unions from spending money on them too.

Comment #13 by Russ Hryzan on 2012 06 13

David Cicilline is spewing more lies and is a hypocrite! Yes, Doug Cicilline's point may be right about big money and government but he happily takes that BIG money every time! David Allen's list is the tip of the iceberg. There are also big campaign donations from banks like Goldman Sacs. In addition, he had to pay a campaign fine of $4530.00 last month.

According to Open Secrets, David Cicilline has raised $84,800 in his congressional career from the securities and investments industries, including $9000 from PACs in those industries as of the end of 2011.

Comment #14 by guy smily on 2012 06 13

After getting fined by the FEC for violating campaign finance laws and reporting a list where his Top 20 campaign donors represent special interests, Cicilline has the gall to write this column?

Take both corporate and union money out of the equation.

Comment #15 by Todd B on 2012 06 14

"Doug Westport," "Amy Roberts,"

Your master David Cicilline does nothing but talk, preen, and posture.

He has accomplished NOTHING to further the agendas of Progressives.

Your choreographed cheers are pathetically ineffective. Neither you nor your boss are fooling anyone.

All that David Cicilline offers in this op-ed is are the equivalent of Saturday morning barber shop gripes and bromides.

David Cicilline states the obvious, and then he asks us to forgive and forget his lies and slander and incompetence because, in essence, he talks a good game.

Hit the road.

Enough is enough.

Comment #16 by Charles Drago on 2012 06 14




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