In January 2008, the nonprofit organization Citizens United, released a documentary criticizing Senator Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination. In anticipation of the primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads to promote the film, and out of concern for penalties and/or fines that could be imposed if found in violation of §441b (referring to “electioneering communication” which was made illegal by §203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002), the nonprofit organization requested “declaratory and injunctive relief,” (Dec 2007) only to be denied a “preliminary injunction,” while the Federal Election Commission, the appellee, was granted “summary judgment.” 
In the Memorandum Opinion of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (Civil Action No. 07-2240), the Court stated “Citizens [United] plans to broadcast the three advertisements and possibly other advertisements within 30 days before the Democratic National Committee Convention and within 60 days before the November general election – both periods are within BCRA’s definition of an electioneering communication.”
As defined by the BCRA, electioneering communication is described by
“any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication which –
(I) refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office; (II) is made within –
(aa) 60 days before a general, special, or runoff election for the office sought by the candidate; or (bb) 30 days before a primary or preference election, or a convention or caucus of a political party that has authority to nominate a candidate, for the office sought by the candidate.” 
§ 434 further clarifies that in the case of presidential candidates, for the advertisement/political persuasion to be considered a form of electioneering communication, it must be capable of reaching 50,000 people.  Considering the vast number of people who utilize the Internet for political information, including details on the records of representatives and the positions of candidates, everything from a YouTube video to a local radio podcast could match the description.
On 21 January 2010, the New York Times reported that “a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.” The decision overturned two precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 ruling which sustained restrictions on the spending of corporations for political speech, and McConnell v. FEC, “a 2003 decision that upheld the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 [electioneering communications] that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions.” 
In 2.A of the Supreme Court’s syllabus for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court asserted that “Although the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” §441b’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions,” on the strength that Political Action Committees (PACs), “created by a corporation,” should still have a voice because they are separate from a given corporation. Furthermore, in a purported attempt at considering the importance of democracy, the Court asserted that laws which suppress political speech, whether by “design or inadvertence,” must be dissolved.
Towards the end of 2.A, the Court suggested that “The Government may also commit a constitutional wrong when by law it identifies certain preferred speakers.” In other words, the laws which up until the Court’s decision limited the “political speech” of corporations, were premised on large donors and corporations exercising a negative influence on American politics, therefore rendering a preference for political contributions by average citizens. It is my assertion that the Supreme Court majority is wrong, and that the Government had not identified “certain preferred speakers,” but merely recognized the distorting effects of limitless financial contributions to American politics, favoring (and rightfully so) the collective and dissenting voices of citizens, regardless of political affiliation, industry in which an individual is employed, or the amount of money that one is financially capable of contributing to a politician and/or party. In fact, the codified distrust of unlimited contributions & the influence of big money from artificial entities like corporations into American politics is consistent with the founding fathers’ opposition (through experience) to unchecked power.
Many of America’s founding fathers foreboded the coming of unchecked power and foresaw the end of the republic’s sovereignty through the burgeoning development of political parties. In his farewell Farewell Address in 1796, George Washington spoke of this threat:
“There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep live the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party, but in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.” 
Despite Washington’s warning, and despite the general public’s current dissatisfaction with the two party system, America’s choices for political leadership are slimmer than ever before, rendering Washington’s centuries old admonishment a piece of political gospel. Americans have not only accepted the fire and failed “to prevent its bursting into a flame,” they’ve also split the flame in two and naively decided one section of the dichotomy is less harmful than the other, or weighed the flames on a “lesser of two evils” scale.
The problem buried deep inside this voting philosophy is as insidious as it is simple. The status quo operatives of the two party system are well aware of the weakness voters expose by refusing to vote outside of the two parties. Out of this conspicuous weakness has grown a stronger, pseudo anonymous entity of unchecked power.
Over $700 billion dollars were raised and spent during Barack Obama’s campaign for President in 2008. After the election, his Presidential Inauguration celebration was paid for by the wealthy, and to be more specific, higher ups from recently bailed out banks like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. As revealed by Public Citizen, “Almost 80 percent of the $35.3 million in contributions disclosed by President-elect Obama’s Presidential Inauguration Committee has come from 211 “bundlers” whom the committee credits with raising $27.6 million. More than half of these individuals bundled vast sums of money for Obama’s presidential campaign, and some bundled contributions for the campaigns of John Edwards or Hillary Clinton.” 
The recently completed 2010 Midterm Elections were no small matter either. Reported on their website, OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics, in late October, predicted that campaign spending would “obliterate spending records for a midterm contest, surpassing the previous high-water mark set in 2006 by about $1 billion.”  Considering the Center declared the prediction less than one week from the election day, it was hardly a prediction, and more like an advantageous current estimate. The point is that the the Midterm Elections were expensive, and at a time when the economy is in a recession, and millions of Americans are unemployed and underemployed, the two major, established political parties spent less time sympathizing with suffering citizens than they did playing politics as usual, bashing opponents with incessant attack ads.
In American politics today, enormous amounts of money in campaign contributions have become so routine and accepted that the now political norm undermines the mandate of the majority vote. As noted by Lawrence Lessig in The Nation magazine on February 22, 2010, “[Max Baucus] has gladly opened his campaign chest to $3.3 million in contributions from the healthcare and insurance industries since 2005, a time when he has controlled healthcare in the Senate.” Baucus is the senator who declared single payer health care to be “off the table” at the beginning of the health care debate in the spring of 2009. Lessig also mentions “Senators Lieberman, Bayh and Nelson, who took millions from insurance and healthcare interests and then opposed the (in their states) popular public option for healthcare.” 
The Obama administration is culpable as well for the opposition (albeit more subtle) and ultimate absence of a public option in the health care bill, signed by President Obama in March of this year. In August of 2009, the Huffington Post revealed that it had obtained an internal memo containing concessions between the White House and Big Pharma, regarding the proposed health care reforms.
While President Obama never explicitly opposed the public option, his adjustment in rhetoric from “What I am trying to do – and what a public option will help do – is put affordable health care within reach for millions of Americans” in June of 2009,  to “But either way, whether there’s a public option in there or not, if you don’t have health insurance, you are going to have now the option of getting it at a reasonable cost” in late December of that same year,  may have helped its opponents exclude it from the Senate bill. Considering the insurance mandate, which he opposed during his campaign, but supported late in the health care debate,  then approved once the health care bills from the House and Senate were conciliated, one could argue that President Obama used the term “option” quite loosely.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED & WHERE IT IS NOW
In Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations, Joseph Stancliffe Davis wrote that “by the time this continent [North America] was discovered the corporation had attained a definite status in the social constitution of England. During the first century of European contact with the New World the number of uses to which the corporate form was put was considerably enlarged.” Joint stocks & common capital both were part of the corporate formula long before America’s forefathers declared Independence from the British empire. In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh gave the task of colonizing Virginia to a corporation. More than a century before the American Revolution, the colonies of Rhode Island & Connecticut were respectively governed by a “Governor and Company,” chartered by the English crown. 
With the preceding examples in mind, one may have an easier time recognizing how deep rooted the relationship between government & corporations is in America. Pundits and leaders from either side of the aisle agree, this deep rooted relationship has grown into an unhealthy, unsustainable, & fiscally irresponsible pandemic with little to no accountability as it fattens an already bloated military budget, subsidizes commercial advertising, spurs the revolving door which turns regulators into lobbyists (and vice versa), and ships American jobs overseas, all together undermining the sovereignty of American citizens. The erosion of American sovereignty is what makes the Citizens United vs. FEC case so important and the Court’s position so perilous.
In the October 25, 2010 issue of TheNation magazine, journalist John Nichols discussed the influx of 2010 campaign spending, which many pundits believed would exceed $5 billion–“almost twice what was spent in 2006.” Nichols asserted, “it’s clear the Supreme Court’s decision to remove restraints on corporate spending has created a scenario where “big money” is moving to monopolize the democratic discourse.” Even before the Supreme Court’s decision, it was clear to some that corporate influence on American government posed a real and sizable threat to American democracy. More than a decade earlier, Charles Derber wrote in his book, Corporation Nation, that “corporations have now amassed vast pubic and quasi-public powers, both by privatizing large parts of government and by buying influence over what is left of it.” Attacks on corporate subsidization (similar to chartering, often referred to as corporate welfare) are refuted with claims of expansive job creation and the strengthening of the American economy. In the chapter, “The Dependent Corporation,” Charles Derber cites Johanna Schneider of the Business Roundtable. Schneider argues, “the term welfare is not accurate. Nobody’s subsidizing companies to do nothing. These programs generate revenue and business and jobs.” 
If we take Johanna Schneider’s word as the honest truth, the question becomes, “what kind of jobs are being created and/or perpetuated, and are they vital to our existence or wasteful and unsustainable?”
Derber, citing The Cato Institute, tells his reader that “In 1991, American taxpayers spent $2.9 million advertising Pillsbury muffins and pies, $10 million promoting Sunkist oranges, $465,000 advertising McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, $1.2 million boosting the international sales of American Legend mink coats, and $2.5 million extolling the virtues of Dole pineapples, nuts, and prunes.” 
Some suggest advertising is an unsustainable industry depending on the medium it is channeled through. Former New York Times war correspondent, Chris Hedges, in a column on Truthdig.com in February 2010, spoke with Jaron Lanier–an accomplished computer scientist, musician, and author–about the erosive culture of the internet.
“Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online. As more and more human activity is aggregated, people huddle around the last remaining oases of revenue. Musicians today might still be able to get paid to make music for video games, for instance, because games are still played in closed consoles and haven’t been collectivized as yet.” 
Aside from subsidization of an unsustainable industry like advertising (which calls into question why any advertising is subsidized), there’s a substantial case to be made against the inefficiency & unethical advantages of certain subsidization. Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, David Cay Johnston, wrote an entire book on the subject, entitled Free Lunch. Through thorough investigation, Johnston’s reader discovers the manners in which corporations collect both direct and indirect subsidies.
In Chapter 9, entitled “Goin’ Fishin’,” the story of an experienced hunting/sporting goods store owner in Hamburg, Pennsylvania–who struggles to stay in business as a subsidized Cabela’s store attempts to drive him out–is told. Despite two decades of ownership, politicians in Hamburg are seduced by the prospect of new prosperity through the opening of a Cabela’s store in town.
“First, Cabela’s wanted an exemption from paying property taxes for the value of its building for years to come. The so-called museum part of the building would be tax-exempt forever as a not-for-profit entity…Then there was the other big part of the subsidy…Cabela’s wanted to pocket the sales taxes, using them to help pay for its building.” 
Cabela’s got exactly what they asked for from Hamburg, Pennsylvania: over $30 million in tax breaks. Jim Weaknecht, the experienced hunting/sporting good store owner, gave up fighting for the life of his business less than 2 years later.
Aside from the economic unfairness attributed to the subsidization of a bullying corporate entity like Cabela’s–which passively threatened to look to other towns if Hamburg, PA was unwilling to accommodate their financial demands–there exists a void in specialization and knowledge of trade that accompanies the handouts to massive corporate welfare recipients like Cabela’s. David Cay Johnston, referring to Weaknecht’s visit to the Cabela’s store on the day that it opened in Hamburg, PA, wrote that “the salespeople he talked to knew next to nothing about rifles or fly rods or the conditions imposed on hunting licenses.  “
In Chapter 12, entitled “False Alarm,” Johnston writes about indirect subsidies handed out to the burglar alarm monitoring industry. “In many cities and suburbs, one of every eight calls for police service comes from a company that monitors burglar alarms. Taxpayers spent well north of $2 billion to respond to these calls, a subsidy to the alarm industry, which is spared that expense.” What Johnston is saying is that these corporations use the police to answer to the concerns of citizens rather than send their own security personnel to the homes of their customers. 
Johnston’s alarm industry story is a verifiable fact, an example of inefficient, indirect subsidization that anyone, regardless of political persuasion, should be upset about. In particular, conservatives who endorse the dogmatic idea of a free market, should be enraged by the perpetuation of inefficient & inequitable corporate welfare much more than they emphatically are over individual welfare recipients (social welfare).
RESPONDING TO THE PUBLIC MANDATE THROUGH THE DISCLOSE ACT
On 21 January 2010, in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United v FEC case, President Obama had the following to say:
“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington – while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That’s why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.” 
The “forceful response” to the Supreme Court’s January decision came in the form of H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act. According to CBS News, “The [DISCLOSE Act] mandates that corporations and unions spending on campaigns and running political advertising publicly identify top donors and related information.”  In June 2010, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a count of 219-206.  But a different story unfurled on the Senate floor.
In July 2010, the DISCLOSE Act failed by procedural vote in the Senate, precluding the bill from being voted on. In September, the bill failed once more. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In the Senate, the final vote was 59 to 39, short of the 60 votes required. All Democrats voted to support the bill; two Republicans did not vote.” 
Despite the DISCLOSE Act’s ostensibly benevolent appearance, a closer look reveals its many flaws. The bill is full of exemptions. As published in the Christian Science Monitor on 25 June 2010, “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle balked at a special deal that House sponsors worked out with the National Rifle Association – the lead opponent of the bill – that exempted the NRA, as well as other nonprofit giants such as AARP and the Sierra Club, from new disclosure requirements.”  Opponents of the bill, like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), argued that the bill favored traditional supporters of Democrats–the unions–and unfairly enforces disclosure of corporations–in some respects, the overwhelming support base of Republicans.
There should be no exemptions in a bill that purports to be for the public interest, yet ironically makes use of a principle that the Supreme Court utilized in its ruling on the Citizens United v FEC case, the case that the DISCLOSE Act is allegedly responding to: “The Government may also commit a constitutional wrong when by law it identifies certain preferred speakers.” The Democrats identified “certain preferred speakers” when they exempted certain organizations from following the disclosure rules laid out in the DISCLOSE Act. By opposing the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v FEC, the Democrats defended the disadvantaged voices of average Americans. But by installing exemptions in the DISCLOSE Act, they eroded the integrity of their position on the issue and unwittingly discredited their own argument.
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