Bill Clinton: Americans have a “real hunger” for bipartisanship

By Jacob | Related entries in News

Speaking at Wednesday’s Fiscal Summit held by the Pete Peterson Foundation, Bill Clinton said:

in the end we have to listen to people that disagree with us.

He said it’s impossible that 100 percent of Republicans or Democrats are always wrong or acting in bad faith, and he said that we can achieve bipartisan agreements by “breaking out of theology” and dealing with facts.

The takeaway: Listen to one another, assume the person you disagree with is not acting in bad faith and don’t get mired in the dogma of your party. It’s time to play in the real world and the real world is not a Republican or Democratic fantasy-land, it’s a balance that we have lost sight of and need to find.

I agree.

He also spoke of a fundamental shift in business where corporations are thought of as separate entities “unrooted” from society and responsible only to shareholders (themselves), rather than to “stakeholders” (employees, customers and the communities of which they are a part).

I also agree. I like describing the condition as “unrooted” because it’s like removing the trees from the side of a hill. The rain will wash away everything that’s left.

Paul Ryan also spoke at the summit and someone recorded him and Clinton chatting backstage. It’s pretty revealing.

Clinton:

I’m glad we won this race in New York … I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing.

I, too, am glad the Democrat won in NY but I’ll be pretty disappointed if the Ryan plan becomes a magic bullet and we waste two more years ( and yet another election) fear mongering.

Frankly, I don’t know enough about the Ryan plan to comment. I do, however, like what he’s quoted as saying in an interview after the summit:

They (Democrats) are going to run these attack ads at us regardless. This is a time for leaders to be leaders. This is not a time for us to follow our fears…

He’s right. I wish our politicians would say and do more of what they believe rather than what they think will make us like them.

———-
cross-posted to my blog


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50 Responses to “Bill Clinton: Americans have a “real hunger” for bipartisanship”

  1. theWord Says:

    The party of death panels and Swift boating are talking about attack ads? Rich. What a bunch of hypocritical whiners.

  2. Jacob Says:

    theWord: I think you’re missing his point. He wasn’t complaining about the attack ads. He was saying that attack ads will happen no matter what, so he might as well get attacked for something he believes in.

    I might not agree with the plan, but I love the “do what you believe” sentiment.

  3. theWord Says:

    I heard him whining about how they lost in NY because they were demagoguing the issue. This from the party of the Tea Party, Swift Boaters, Bachmann, Palin, Santorum, Coulter and Fox News. Clean up that mess of humanity first and then the Dems can disarm, They are just telling the truth about his plan. Closest he came was when he said (reading between the lines) But we aren’t screwing the over 55 crowd.

    I have no problem with the “do what you believe” sentiment but their whining is whining. They have lied for decades about Medicare and how they support it and when they get the chance they try to kill it (after demagoguing that Obama was trying to do that.) I don’t know that there is an honest guy in the party other than Ron Paul. (and he’s a Libertarian with his own baggage)

  4. theWord Says:

    Perhaps he can say it better “The president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare,” he protested to his former House GOP colleague Joe Scarborough, now host of MSNBC’s morning show.

    If there were an hypocrisy lightning bolt and a god, he’d be a goner.

  5. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @Jacob:
    The problem with Clinton’s analysis is that it doesn’t acknowledge two things:

    1) People are very good at convincing themselves of things that they want to believe. Politicians are like anyone in any other job field. They want to believe they’ll get the next promotion, and they’ll be great at the job, which will lead to wonderful things to everyone.

    But to get promoted in politics you need to win elections. And since most elections are referendums on the people who currently run things politicians have a major incentive to believe co-operating with each-other is a bad idea.

    2) There are massive differences between the two sides that cannot be papered over. Conservatives believe that low taxes, low spending, and free markets will solve all our economic problems. Liberals believe that low taxes, low spending, and GOP-inspired free market solutions are the entire reason we have problems.

    If either side is right compromise is evil because it will result in not solving the country’s problems, and will make it harder to solve the country’s problems in the future by increasing the odds the other side will win the election and raise/lower taxes, raise/lower spending, increase/decrease regulations, etc.

    There are some countervailing forces. Both sides need a government that runs, and need to at least pay lip service to bipartisanship lest they be crushed in the next elections. The Debt Ceiling is a another one because if we the treasury runs out of tricks Obama will have to cut like 50% from the government by decree, which is virtually impossible without killing something everyone likes (like combat pay for troops), and there’s no way to know who would be blamed.

  6. Mike A. Says:

    I think both parties are at risk for losing on this Medicare issue. The conservative’s hand is well exposed at this moment, but if liberals appear to only bash the right’s plans, then they will appear to be ineffective. If there is any one issue that requires collaboration and agreement between both sides to convince the public it’s the right thing to do…it’s Medicare. And even then, it’s going to be a tough sell.

  7. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @Mike:
    Remember politicians don’t care what you say about them if they win elections. When Liberals had a Medicare plan the accountants said would reduce the deficit in the high twelve figures the GOP refused to do anything but bash the plan, and it’s widely believed that bashing helped them win their current House majority.

    So that Medicare plan is the one us lefties will be going with, perhaps with minor changes. Since that plan is now old it will not make the news. Since our position on it is even older that will not make the news.

    What will make the news is our constant bashing of RyanCare, because RyanCare is new. And we will constantly bash it because we think it uses an incredibly inneficiant model (vouchers and private, for-profit insurance), and is grossly under-funded.

  8. Jacob Says:

    @Nick:

    If either side is right compromise is evil because it will result in not solving the country’s problems, and will make it harder to solve the country’s problems in the future by increasing the odds the other side will win the election and raise/lower taxes, raise/lower spending, increase/decrease regulations, etc.

    I think Clinton’s point (with which I agree) is that nobody is 100% right or wrong. Compromising isn’t evil, it’s a way to find a healthy balance. It’s the “us vs. them” mentality that is evil. It pits Americans against each other and engenders fear and irrational behavior.

    There has to be an ebb and flow or none of this can work. Demonizing “the other” and assuming bad faith (like theWord has so aptly done in this thread) only serves to halt the process before it starts. To me, the most damage done by the Bush Administration was in this arena – nurturing and encouraging disagreement (even hatred) between liberal and conservative Americans.

    And we’ve all jumped on the bandwagon – we hate and mistrust one another equally on both sides of the aisle. It sucks.

  9. theWord Says:

    @Jacob-
    You are right, but it would only be an assumption absent the ample evidence. Republicans have been against Medicare back to Governor Reagan so they’ve been lying about supporting it for all those years and fooling the gullible. I think they think they are doing the right thing now. It doesn’t make them any less hypocritical for talking out of both sides of their mouths for decades.

    How in the world can you say whining about Democrats telling the truth now is on a level with the Death Panel talk that eviscerated health reform? All I used were Ryan’s words to make my case which you never even addressed. For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill. I need evidence that the GOP is willing to work with Democrats. When every process starts with “We will not yield an inch” then I think you are naive to think there is a reason to think there is hope for it. Incredibly naive.

  10. theWord Says:

    To clarify- I’d love to be able to address things in a bipartisan fashion based on factual debate. We don’t live in that world. The GOP ran on the economy (which they neglected to mention they were largely responsible for) They have then spent almost all of their time reviving the divisive anti Abortion agenda. Was that an honest approach? Obama has the lowest confirmation rate for judicial nominees since Nixon- many of the people here were likely not born or were toddlers when he was President. Where was the compromise on Single Payer, Cap and Trade and Climate Change? Romney was even against the Auto bailout and is now claiming it was his idea since it worked. Isn’t that a bit shameless? Let me know when Elizabeth Warren is allowed to take office and which GOP members support a voice for consumers.

    If they had someone who actually was like you wish to believe, he wouldn’t exist, they would have destroyed him. Lincoln Chafee comes to mind. When they can get 95-100% of their members to march in lockstep, where are the independent thinkers that we should want to seek out?

    So until you find the party of working together members, I’ll have to go with the daily evidence that indicates otherwise. You can call it prejudice, I’ll call it judgment based on the evidence.

  11. kranky kritter Says:

    @ Mike and Nick:
    Mike

    I think both parties are at risk for losing on this Medicare issue.

    Nick

    Remember politicians don’t care what you say about them if they win elections.

    Excellent points guys. Now, let see if we can keep pointing this out in ways that allow more folks todo the math based on these facts.

    Let’s help them to BOTH lose. Let’s vote for independent candidates and other moderates who show promise of graduating past simple talking points. I am convinced that there’s only way to really get members of the parties to drop their inflexible rhetoric and come up with compromise positions. That’s to demonstrate in a concrete way our willingness to reject BOTH sides half truths. Unless we provide real and concrete and negative consequences for party candidate who traffic in simplistic half-truths, we’ll keep getting the “leaders” we deserve.

    Now, not everyone has such options. But if you do, support that independent who quit his party. Support that candidate from the party you never vote for if he or she is talking more sense than the one from your usual team. If your local election involves some foregone conclusion, write in a protest vote. Pull the fuc|<ing trigger, folks. As long as we keep letting one of the two major parties win every election, we'll just keep zig-zagging from one distorted view to the other.

  12. superdestroyer Says:

    There is no way that there can be bipartisanship because both sides know that they are lying. The Republicans believe that low taxes solve all problems while refusing to make any budget cuts. Democrats believe that the U.S. can have less sprawl and lower popoulation emissions while maintaining open borders and unlimited immigration.

    Republicans know that schools cannot train everyone but keep proposing ideas that all children can learn algebra. Democrats keep saying that there are no differences among demographic groups but then send their children to all white schools.

    Neither side is willing to face reality and thus, no political solution is possible.

  13. kranky kritter Says:

    Well, no political solution is likely within the confines of the existing system. It’s the responsibility of voters to provide corrective feedback. I’ll agree with you this much: it’s very hard to argue that we are not getting exactly the sorts of leaders we’ve “earned.”

  14. Zarko Says:

    I just wish my country, Serbia, has two parties. It’s much easier to handle

  15. centerist cynic Says:

    The issue is we have a ruling political class that is more afraid of losing the next election than doing harm to Americans or our political structure. Until Americans stop being convinced by the latest popular slogans and actually work to understand the issues no lasting solutions will be found.

    I find Clinton’s railing against corporations just another attempt to create another bogey man. Bad behavior by businesses is not restricted to corporations acting in their self interest. Corporate personhood is not an easy subject to understand nor is it inherently bad or good. The issue is that Corporations are not citizens of any country and should not be given the rights that citizens are given.

  16. Calmoderate Says:

    Clinton’s comments are interesting.

    First, he believes that it is not possible that 100 percent of Republicans or Democrats are always wrong or acting in bad faith. That’s probably true. But, how does one tell the white hats from the black ones? I don’t know how to do that. 100% of Republicans or Democrats say they are on our side and that simply isn’t true. After all, they routinely accuse each other of all sorts of awful things. They ought to know about those things, so how can they all be good and pure? Who does one trust?

    Second, Clinton believes that we can achieve bipartisan agreements by “breaking out of theology” and dealing with facts. That is definitely true, but how on earth can you convince hard core partisans of looking honestly at facts and seriously listening to counterpoints to the “party line” when facts point in the “wrong” policy direction, i.e., contradicts sacred ideology?

    Just look at what the Republicans did to Newt when he called the Republican budget extremist right wing social engineering (or something like that). He was crucified and wussed out with some feeble nonsense apology. That says there is no way to break away from the “theology”, at least for Republicans. I have no reason to believe the Democrats differ much.

    Maybe many (most?) Americans do want bipartisan co-operation. I am not one of those people. I have lost faith in both parties. I want one or both of them out of power. They failed and they continue to fail. I have a hard time seeing success coming from compromise between two flawed sets of political beliefs – its like trying to build something using broken parts. The final product will be broken.

    The Republican and Democratic parties serve special interests and special interest money before the public interest. They have no new ideas to get us efficiently out of our messes. They have a crystal clear record of failure, unless of course you happen to be someone who likes our political/social situation. But before deciding about that failure thing, just consider America compared to the rest of the world at the end of the second World War. We had it all, and most of the rest of the world was a political and economic mess.

    What we need is a new political party that is (1) relatively free from special interest corruption and (2) grounded in facts, not rigid political and/or religious ideology. Those factors are a big part of what led us to failure, so they seem to be a reasonable place to reform in a quest for a clean, new start.

  17. scott ehredt Says:

    @centrist cynic: “…we have a ruling political class that is more afraid of losing the next election than doing harm to Americans or our political structure.” Love it. Politicians are as bad as the corporations they fault for shortsightedly being interested only in the next quarter’s profits. Only in the case of politicians, profits equate with votes. We need a party that is going to look long-term and address our nation’s biggest problems first and there seems to be broad agreement here in these comments that the outer parties are unable or unwilling to do so. Maybe it is unrealistic to think the National Centrist Party can replace politics as we know it. But there is only one way to prove it and that’s to back the party at least a little and see if that gets it anywhere.

    @Kranky Kritter: Let’s earn a new type of representative that will actually represent their constituency in their district instead of special interests and a national, one-size-fits-all ideology. Check out the NCP site content and let me know what you think. I’m sure it will never be perfect but can’t we fill the gaps better than what our current political process is doing?

    Let’s build something.

    [email protected]

  18. Thomas Says:

    Four or five years ago I would have agreed.

    I’ve seen no sign in the last half-decade, though, that conservatives understand the concept of “Good Faith,” in any of the shades of meaning those two words can have.

  19. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @Calmoderate:
    The problem with organizing a party free of special interests is that literally everyone is in a special interest group.

    Moreover you’ll run into the huge problem that while everyone hates the parties in theory, in practice everyone loves the partisans who actually represent them in DC.

    Organizing a third party based on different interest groups would be possible, but for it to happen you’d have to have a groundswell of people willing to put decades into the project. You’d have to be willing to fight tooth and nail for jobs like Mosquito Control Board, and you’d have to ecstatic when your guys came in second because that means that you’re positioned to win when the ruling party screws up.

    OTOH if you-all did what the Tea Party did, declared yourselves members of one party, and then showed up to vote in the god-damned primary you’d be a major force in one election cycle.

    That’s why the two-party system in the US is so strong. Anybody serious enough to win with a third party could have become a major faction in one of the two biggies a decade ago, which means starting a third party is stupid tactics.

  20. WHQ Says:

    There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

    – Niccolo Machiavelli

  21. kranky kritter Says:

    I don’t think we need a 3rd party, and don’t think that’s the way to go. I think a great place to start is to have more independents support reforms that diminish party dominance, and to have more independents run with “the inadequacy and flaws of the major parties” as a centerpiece of their campaign.

    Conceivably, there’s still time for independents to wreak some havoc in the presidential primaries. Are YOU an independent? Or a disgruntled democrat? Why bother voting in the democratic presidential primary? It’ll be a coronation, so. . . .. Find out what YOU have to do to vote in the GOP primary in your state, and then go fu**ing do it.

    The only known semi-viable remedies here are to move candidates toward independent positions and to foster the emergence of more candidates who will look beyond party doctrine. To, the extent that independents are frozen out of the primaries, the nature of the choices that partisans make without our feedback are very, very, predictable, aren’t they?

    And isn’t this all about feedback? Our politicians need feedback from the middle third. So stop bitching and let’s do that for starters.

  22. WHQ Says:

    Why bother voting in the democratic presidential primary? It’ll be a coronation, so. . . .. Find out what YOU have to do to vote in the GOP primary in your state, and then go fu**ing do it.

    In my state, if you’re an independant, you can vote in either primary, but you automatically become registered for the party whose primary you voted in. I was one such independant, who is now registered as a Democrat. I see no reason whatsoever not to switch to vote in the GOP primary, if voting in the GOP primary seems the least bit worthwhile to me.

    I really don’t get the identity thing with party registration. It’s just a mechanism for voting in primary elections, a purely utilitarian thing, IMO. Use it as such. Don’t define yourself politically by it. (Or do whatever – it’s a free country. You just might be being stupid is all.)

    I wonder, if I register as a Republican, will I uncontrollably start listening to Rush Limbaugh or something?

  23. kranky kritter Says:

    In MA, all you have to do is to show up. You then temporarily “enroll” in the party whose primary you want to vote in. When you’re done, you revert.

    I think every state should allow all voters to vote in the primary of their choice, without erecting barriers to participation or allowing the parties themselves to do so. As long as it’s the state which is footing the bill for and handling the logistics of running the primaries, I don’t think the parties have any right to exclude folks.

    If the parties wanted to run their primaries by themselves on their own dime, then I would fine with them acting as an exclusive club and keeping out people they viewed as not belonging.

  24. WHQ Says:

    I agree 100%.

  25. theWord Says:

    My concern is that someone unscrupulous could use this to torpedo the general election. For example, if the next Democratic primary is a coronation, then why not tell everyone to vote for Trump or Palin or Bachman? It’s one thing when the GOP chooses to ride the idiot horse but… I don’t think this is any less likely than thousands of well-meaning and well-informed voters moving America to the middle. (In fact, I’d say it is more realistic) With the GOP, I think there is also the fear that no one is a bridge too far so it could backfire with one of these morons actually getting elected.

    I don’t get the nirvana-like appeal of independents. I’m not impressed by the critical thinking skills of someone who could have voted for W and Obama.

  26. WHQ Says:

    I don’t get the nirvana-like appeal of independents.

    I can rarely seem to spell it right. But I don’t see anyone suggesting nirvana, or that the defining characteristic of an independent is the inability to see the difference between two very different candidates.

    Technically, as a voter, if you aren’t registered (or “enrolled”) with either party, you’re an independent. That’s all there is to it. If you are philosophically an independent, you don’t have a strong leaning toward either of the major parties, but that doesn’t mean that you, as an individual, are therefore incapable of differentiation.

    Looking at the voting patterns of independents as a group doesn’t tell you much about individual independents, since you don’t know which ones voted in which election, which ones changed registration status to or from unregistered from one election to the next, or which ones switched parties voted for from one general election to the next. It’s not a fixed group, not all the members at a given time behave the same way, and there isn’t much information readily available, at least to my knowledge, below aggregate numbers.

    I don’t doubt that there are some independents who are muddle-headed dolts lacking information or critical-thinking skills, but I don’t think you’re going to get it right very often to assume a given independent fits that description simply based on his being an independent.

  27. theWord Says:

    @WHQ

    Thanks for trying and I will try to do the same. I sense a strong bias on here against partisanship. I think it is possible to arrive there far more honestly though. I agree that it would be great to not feel like it would be impossible to vote for the other party, whatever it might be. In the past, I did feel that way, I’ve voted Republican, Democrat and even Libertarian. I’ve actually worked on more Republican campaigns than Democrats but I can’t imagine voting for any Republican again.

    When I was growing up, you’d be considered anti-American for saying the US would ever torture someone. It would be a contemptible idea. One party has pretty much embraced that approach lock, stock and barrel. I have no wiggle room on that. I also don’t see how you could hate equal citizenship one election and be for it the next and not be an imbecile. In the Democratic party, there are lots of different shades and strains. Some to my mind are way too similar to Republicans. There is at least the possibility of voting for a Conservative Democrat. I can’t think of any Liberal Republicans, I’d be hard pressed to think of a moderate one. So, if like in the old days (60s through 80s) you were a moderate, it made logical sense to weigh them in the balance in their entirety. You could choose the right person and the party was a small part of it. These days I don’t know how you could have core principles and find them in both parties though.

    If someone is prejudiced against one group and wants to legislate that prejudice, they seem to me to fall squarely in one party. Almost every major issue from gun control to drug policy to our prison population is so heavily demagogued by the Right that we can’t even look at solutions that we all know we should as we blow billions in money we don’t have on failed policies and waste thousands of lives.

    I heard an interesting idea the other day, publicly fund all elections. Neither party wouldt have the money to blow on all the lies then. Set up two steps, Identify what you think are the problems that need addressing, then lay out a plan to address them. Infrastructure blows in this country and we keep falling farther and farther behind. Try to address it and the tax and spend whiners would come out of the caves like bats at dark. Let your roof go past the point of repair and see if that was a wise financial decision. Ask the people in Minnesota.

    Everything should be on the table and everything should be debated honestly. Does anyone think it is done that way? There are likely more things we could agree on if it was a fact based discussion, but some are content to just make their own “facts” up.

    Tell me what you think and why and we can discuss things.

  28. kranky kritter Says:

    I don’t doubt that there are some independents who are muddle-headed dolts lacking information or critical-thinking skills, but I don’t think you’re going to get it right very often to assume a given independent fits that description simply based on his being an independent.

    Let’s juxtapose WHQ above with Word below: with this:

    I’ve actually worked on more Republican campaigns than Democrats but I can’t imagine voting for any Republican again. . . .

    When I was growing up, you’d be considered anti-American for saying the US would ever torture someone. It would be a contemptible idea. One party has pretty much embraced that approach lock, stock and barrel. . . . I can’t think of any Liberal Republicans, I’d be hard pressed to think of a moderate one.

    Almost every major issue from gun control to drug policy to our prison population is so heavily demagogued by the Right that we can’t even look at solutions that we all know we should as we blow billions in money we don’t have on failed policies and waste thousands of lives.

    I gotta say that what WHQ says about independents goes for democrats and Republicans as well. Both parties want us to look at the other party as a monolith, because it’s so rhetorically convenient, such an easy, simplistic argument.

    Well I won’t do it. I won’t throw the entire group under the bus because the nitwits are dominating the dojo right now. And I also won’t dismiss the areas where the GOP has substantial insight, simply because of other areas where I disagree with their policy approach or political style. It’s personally necessary, if I want to stay sane and keep my eye on what matters, not to dismiss either group as a group.

    And it’s freeing not to have a dog in the hunt. That doesn’t make independence a nirvana. Far from it. But at least I stay out of the ruts of the insistent broad brush smears.

    We’re going into an era of America where we face the fact that we’ll get what we have the resources for, and no more than that. We’re going to get necessary and probably overdue cuts to the federal budget because of the role that Republicans are poised to play in the brinksmanship dance. That their fiscal ideas go too far don’t matter to me, because they aren’t going to get more than half of their way. There’s a solid majority against the medicare cuts the GOP has floated. They’ve gotten routed on this issue.

    We’re simply not going to legalize torture, so that issue isn’t on my radar screen. If other folks want to believe that the subset of folks euphemizing torture as “enhanced interrogation” will get their way, go ahead and believe it. I don’t. And besides, if it does happen, it will be because 21st century American fear and cowardice crosses party lines. It will be because 9/11 permanently moved the dial, not because one party is evil. I have heard plenty of democrats and moderates lean this way, so it’s undeniable. The Patriot Act passed the house 357-66 (democrats 145-62 in favor) and it passed the Senate 98-1. What we are seeing onsuch issues is reflecting of where Americans views have moved. I have no trouble accepting this, and so I don’t need to blame most Republicans (or more than half of democrats) for reflecting public sentiment.

  29. kranky kritter Says:

    I heard an interesting idea the other day, publicly fund all elections. Neither party wouldt have the money to blow on all the lies then.

    I believe that there is absolutely ZERO chance that this would ever happen. Still birth. And personally, I think it’s an idea that has theoretical merits which would vanish immediately in practice. Not to mention, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare that would run afoul of many civil liberties issues if it prevented folks from participating by using their own money or contributions gathers the usual way.

    But since you think it’s an interesting idea, go ahead and collect other like-minded folks to research it. First, get the rest of us a good-faith, count everything estimate of how much it would cost annually. Then tell us how you plan to pay for it. Be specific.

    Then work out the precise details for us to do some sort of focus test where we can try it one time, and then decide whether it actually, in practice, made any difference.

  30. theWord Says:

    @Kranky
    You said
    We’re simply not going to legalize torture

    I’d say we did when Bush and Cheney were allowed to say repeatedly they did it and we didn’t even have the integrity to decide unequivocally whether we were willing to say it was right or wrong.

    John Anderson, a Republican already did a thoughtful study on public financing of elections. The how would we pay for it line was downright silly. We have spent money for decades and will continue to do so. End the corporate welfare, get rid of the war on drugs, get rid of half of our military budget, I think I just covered it and there are plenty of other spots. I think elections have devolved into All star wrestling and that it would be worth an investment to move them back to ideas and away from marketing and distortion and purchase by the already powerful. If anyone thought the thing that would make this nation better was more corporate purchase of the process, we will never agree.

    As to Civil Liberties, when you can appoint Presidents and create law that can never be a precedent and manufacture “citizens” obviously the law is pretty malleable (and those were just the “strict constitutionalists”)

    What is your desire to save this putrid mess and not search for an improvement?

  31. gerryf Says:

    I cannot stand this false equivalence stuff…no matter how bad the Democrats get, they will never be as bat crap crazy as the Republican Party. Here’s a good example.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV8HFHkX3PA

    This is an attack ad against John Huntsman–made by the far right.

    Watch the ad and you think, “Ok, I can get behind this guy.” But the right wing nut job who put it out are trying to tell you that this guy is a Republican in Name Only and not worthy of your vote.

    Bat. Crap. Crazy.

  32. WHQ Says:

    Just for the record, at least on the national level and at this point in time, I would be very, very unlikely to vote for a Republican. Someone like Chuck Hagel would have to run, which probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.

  33. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I believe that there is absolutely ZERO chance that this would ever happen. Still birth. And personally, I think it’s an idea that has theoretical merits which would vanish immediately in practice. Not to mention, it would be a bureaucratic nightmare that would run afoul of many civil liberties issues if it prevented folks from participating by using their own money or contributions gathers the usual way.

    In most countries they already have publicly financed elections. It’s less bureaucracy then the current system, or at least the pre-Citizens United system, because it would be really easy to report the government grant.

    It only limits civil liberties if you pick an extremely weird definition of civil liberties. For example the current Supreme Court case about the Arizona law centers around a provision that gives candidates who’re outspent more money. It’s kinda hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that someone’s freedom of speech could be restricted just because he can’t buy the right to shout everyone else down.

    Costs are relatively easy to calculate, and are trivial in the context of a $Trillion budget. Remember Obama’s huge spending? It was $1 Billion. Offer both parties that much money and it’s $2 Billion. Since you only have to spend it every four years it’s $500 Million a year. Offer $1 Million to the nominees of the two top-performing parties in every House district and you’re spending $870 Million every two years, or $435 Million a year.

    The Senate gets more complicated because only a third of seats are up every year, and they’re elected state-wide. But even if you offer both nominees in every race $15 million that’s only $990 Million-$1.02 Billion (33 Senators are in Class I and II, but Class III has 34) every two years. And a Senate race with $30 million in spending would have been the sixth most expensive Senate race in the last election, and third most expensive in ’08.

  34. kranky kritter Says:

    The how would we pay for it line was downright silly. We have spent money for decades and will continue to do so.

    It’s a reasonable and legitimate question no matter what you say to distract from it. I’d like to know the full “count everything” price tag. I feel that way about every new proposed program, and I feel that way about existing programs. There’s not a thing wrong with that. AFTER we figure the price tag, then we can talk about how we’d pay for it. We’re spending 5 dollars for every 3 collect, and that can’t continue. Anyone who glibly dismisses this in a sentence or two is a nitwit, plain and simple.

    As to Civil Liberties, when you can appoint Presidents and create law that can never be a precedent and manufacture “citizens” obviously the law is pretty malleable (and those were just the “strict constitutionalists”)

    I really have no idea what your point is here or what you’re trying to say. Not a clue. Perhaps you’d like to try again?

    I cannot stand this false equivalence stuff

    For the nth time, I categorically deny that the statements I am making amount to “equivalence,” false or otherwise. This is the only (and quite weak) way that Gerry can try to blunt what I say. It’s worth comparing things and noticing similarities. We all do it all the time. But this is clearly far too subtle for a bluntskull. I don’t vote for parties. I vote for individuals.

    Watch the ad and you think, “Ok, I can get behind this guy.” But the right wing nut job who put it out are trying to tell you that this guy is a Republican in Name Only and not worthy of your vote.

    You start out by talking about a republican hopeful that you think is worth voting for. But then you conclude on the basis of a fringe attack that republicans as a class are insane and unsupportable. At some point you need to be consistent in identifying your beef as being with hardcore conservatives. Every once in a while you seem ready to slide out of the rut and stop treating all conservatives and all republicans as a monolith. But then you fall back to a broad brush smear. How much clearer can it be that moderates and independents need to support RINOs and blue dogs? That each party’s hardcore seeks to marginalize such folks is a monster clue to any sound mind.

    Nobody here has tried to argue with you that the people you call kooky are not in fact kooky. It’s your default leap to a wildly overbroad conclusion that’s so preposterous.

    In most countries they already have publicly financed elections. It’s less bureaucracy then the current system, or at least the pre-Citizens United system, because it would be really easy to report the government grant.

    Do most countries even have real legitimate elections? That hasn’t been my impression. Are you speaking only of modern western democracies? What do the candidates and people in those nations say about their systems? Are they effusive in their praise? From what I’ve heard, both voters and candidates are pretty lukewarm about them. I could be wrong though, not an area I pay much attention to.

    My main reason for thinking the idea is stillborn is that there does not seem to be much support for it among Americans, outside of the left. Most moderates and true behavioral independents don’t seem very sanguine about it.

    Costs are relatively easy to calculate, and are trivial in the context of a $Trillion budget.

    Remember, the original proposal in this thread said ALL elections. Not just federal elections.

    It only limits civil liberties if you pick an extremely weird definition of civil liberties.

    Well, “extremely weird” is a judgement call, so I won’t speak to that. But it limits civil liberties according to the definition that is currently the law of the land. If the public financing precluded people from running privately financed candidacies or running their own opinion ads, it violates the 4th amendment, plain and simple. So, until that ruling is somehow evaded, public financing is a non-starter.

    Just for the record, at least on the national level and at this point in time, I would be very, very unlikely to vote for a Republican. Someone like Chuck Hagel would have to run, which probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    Are you speaking exclusively about the final Presidential race here? I fully intend to vote for a republican in the prez primary, for reasons previously stated. Then I expect to vote for Obama in the final. I will almost certainly vote for Scott Brown for senate, who has consistently shown a willingness to break with the party in sensible places. If it means handing the senate to the GOP, I would reconsider. But is just the sort of candidate I like to see.

  35. kranky kritter Says:

    My responses are stuck in moderation.

  36. gerryf Says:

    …which is undoubtedly the only moderate thing about them….

    oh c’mon, that was funny!

  37. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Do most countries even have real legitimate elections? That hasn’t been my impression. Are you speaking only of modern western democracies? What do the candidates and people in those nations say about their systems? Are they effusive in their praise? From what I’ve heard, both voters and candidates are pretty lukewarm about them. I could be wrong though, not an area I pay much attention to.

    Your assumption I meant modern western democracies is correct.

    Voters are always lukewarm about elections. They have the idea that they’re supposed be choosing between Washington and FDR, and they’re always disappointed to find out the actual candidates on the ballot are human.

    As for candidates, the last time I heard of a Western government trying to cut their public financing system it was Canada in 2008. Prime Minister Harper would have been ousted if the Queen hadn’t recommended Canada’s Governor-General go along with his request to prorogue Parliament until the crisis blew over.

    My main reason for thinking the idea is stillborn is that there does not seem to be much support for it among Americans, outside of the left. Most moderates and true behavioral independents don’t seem very sanguine about it.

    Agreed.

    Leftists love the idea because we’re obsessed with the idea corporations buy elections. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, and it’s not an idea that most non-leftists take at all seriously.

    Remember, the original proposal in this thread said ALL elections. Not just federal elections.

    Two points:
    First off the total numbers won’t change much if the Feds fund elections at the state level. While there are a lot more races at that level, they also tend to be a lot cheaper per race. Think about it this way: if we can fund Federal elections adequately for about $5 per person why would state-level elections cost $20 per person?

    Secondly, a Federal system of public financing for State-Level elections would probably run into Constitutional difficulties. Most notably the states all have unique Constitutional setups, which would make it difficult to create a system that’s fair to all of them.

    Well, “extremely weird” is a judgement call, so I won’t speak to that. But it limits civil liberties according to the definition that is currently the law of the land. If the public financing precluded people from running privately financed candidacies or running their own opinion ads, it violates the 4th amendment, plain and simple. So, until that ruling is somehow evaded, public financing is a non-starter.

    Which is why no public financing system has ever included a cap on spending for non-publicly financed candidates. They can spend whatever they want.

    The current controversy has to do with something called “rescue funds.” The idea is that if a privately financed candidate wants to spend above a certain limit his publicaly financed opponent will get extra money. It’s only precluding free speech in the sense that if you try to drown your opponent in cash he gets extra public funds, which makes drowning your opponent in cash less of a no-brainer.

  38. kranky kritter Says:

    As for candidates, the last time I heard of a Western government trying to cut their public financing system it was Canada in 2008. Prime Minister Harper would have been ousted if the Queen hadn’t recommended Canada’s Governor-General go along with his request to prorogue Parliament until the crisis blew over.

    Maybe, as you seem to imply, this suggests relative satisfaction. Or maybe its inertia. Much easier to start and establish a bureaucracy over time than to dismantle. Easy to get it, hard to get out.

    First off the total numbers won’t change much if the Feds fund elections at the state level. While there are a lot more races at that level, they also tend to be a lot cheaper per race. Think about it this way: if we can fund Federal elections adequately for about $5 per person why would state-level elections cost $20 per person?

    Because of scale. One President, 50 governors. How many mayors? 100 senators, 435 house members. How many state senators and reps. Home many city council members? School boards? Where would you stop, and why?

    Which is why no public financing system has ever included a cap on spending for non-publicly financed candidates. They can spend whatever they want.

    But it prevented some 3rd parties from running ads. Also, don’t pretend. There are plenty of public finance advocates that want every candidate to abide by a cap.

    It’s only precluding free speech in the sense that if you try to drown your opponent in cash he gets extra public funds, which makes drowning your opponent in cash less of a no-brainer.

    So if you earn extra support by being more compelling to your supporters, the government props up the other candidate(s)? I don’t buy the presumption that each candidate should deserve the same amount of support. I would prefer for candidates to earn their support by doing something more than saying “I’ll run.”

    I’ll happily acknowledge that there’s a problem with big money buying candidates. But they still have to make the sale to voters. I don’t agree with those on the right who suggest that money is the exact same thing as speech. But I have yet to come up with a logical alternative.

    Communication is becoming a lot cheaper. And what was once the main stream is becoming more of a silted flood plain. Getting your message out isn’t the problem. Getting people to listen is the problem. So you need a better message.

    If there are any adjustments, I’d like to see granting of free airtime as a condition of broadcast licensing, or even a channel set aside for such purposes. I’d also like to see every candidate pass a “white room” test. You have to go into a white room (no flags or fireplaces or symbolic props) and turn on a camera. No cue cards or teleprompter. Tell us what you think, You have 5 minutes.

  39. WHQ Says:

    Are you speaking exclusively about the final Presidential race here?

    Any general election for federal office.

  40. Nick Benjamin Says:

    First off,
    I tried to respond to kk a few hours ago, but I got a “connection has timed out error,” which I assumed didn’t mean anything. Apparently it did mean something or my post got caught in moderation. Apologies if the latter is the case, and I end up responding twice.

    Maybe, as you seem to imply, this suggests relative satisfaction. Or maybe its inertia. Much easier to start and establish a bureaucracy over time than to dismantle. Easy to get it, hard to get out.

    Keep in mind that inertia is a much stronger force in the US then it is anywhere else. In the US eliminating a bureaucracy requires the assent of several Committee Chairs, 60% of the Senate, half the House, and the President. Moreover the Senate must be willing to devote at least four days to the issue if any single Senator wants to keep the bureaucracy due to the filibuster.

    OTOH in Canada if the PM wants it done it gets done. As the PM is selected by Parliament in almost every matter Parliament gets what a majority of Parliament wants. In other words inertia is only a justification for not changing something in Canada if most of Parliament is willing to go on TV and say it is.

    IMO the evidence is pretty clear: Canadian politicians like their system or they’d change it.

    Because of scale. One President, 50 governors. How many mayors? 100 senators, 435 house members. How many state senators and reps. Home many city council members? School boards? Where would you stop, and why?

    The thing that’s expensive in politics is contacting voters. As long as the number of voters remains constant the cost of contacting them remains the same no matter how you divide them up into districts. That’s why paying for the Presidential election, US House election, and US Senate election all cost roughly the same per year at $500 million.

    This implies every time you add a set of races to the system it will cost roughly $500 million. Since every state has directly elected Governors, Senators, and House members (except Nebraska, which only has a Senate) this would add $1.5 Billion to the price tag.

    The difficulty with extending Federal financing further then this is that states are set up very differently. Michigan, for example, only has three state-wide elections: Governor (Lt. Gov runs on the Gov’s ticket), Attorney General, and Secretary of State. Ohio elects it’s Treasurer. 49 states appoint the guy who runs their National Guard units — the Adjutant General — but South Carolina elects theirs. It gets worse as you go to lower-level offices. Most states, for example, have no equivalent of Michigan’s unincorporated Townships.

    This makes extending a federal system to all 50 states problematic.

    But it prevented some 3rd parties from running ads. Also, don’t pretend. There are plenty of public finance advocates that want every candidate to abide by a cap.

    Which law prevented a third party from buying ads?

    As for what advocates want, this is irrelevant to the discussion. What one wants and what one can get are never the same thing in politics.

    So if you earn extra support by being more compelling to your supporters, the government props up the other candidate(s)? I don’t buy the presumption that each candidate should deserve the same amount of support. I would prefer for candidates to earn their support by doing something more than saying “I’ll run.”

    The intent of these laws is to prevent somebody from using huge amounts of personal money to drown out everyone else, and de facto buy himself political power. They are not aimed at candidates who have truly broad-based fundraising.

    If you can think of a fairer way to prevent the Bill Gateses of the world from dominating any race that happens to take their fancy, simply because they can, I’d love to hear it.

  41. theWord Says:

    The costs could also be somewhat reduced by reminding those who operate broadcast licenses.

    “The spectrum belongs to the public and that licensees have no property rights to continue using it.”

    IOW, you could tell them, it’s part of the license fee to actually inform the public. If we don’t own them they have a right to do whatever, if we do own them we can say that is part of their licensing cost.

    Some of us remember when News was not profit driven and didn’t suck like it does today.

  42. kranky kritter Says:

    Keep in mind that inertia is a much stronger force in the US then it is anywhere else. In the US eliminating a bureaucracy requires the assent of several Committee Chairs, 60% of the Senate, half the House, and the President. Moreover the Senate must be willing to devote at least four days to the issue if any single Senator wants to keep the bureaucracy due to the filibuster.

    OTOH in Canada if the PM wants it done it gets done. As the PM is selected by Parliament in almost every matter Parliament gets what a majority of Parliament wants. In other words inertia is only a justification for not changing something in Canada if most of Parliament is willing to go on TV and say it is.

    IMO the evidence is pretty clear: Canadian politicians like their system or they’d change it.

    You’re grossly underestimating the force of inertia, which bears directly on human nature. How often has Canada undertake a major policy direction and utterly changed paths? You’re suggesting that, because theoretically they could do this, that they actually do so often. People get used toi doing things a certain way, and as time passes, that way of doing things gets locked in. This has very little to do with forms of government and everything to do with human nature. My argument here is not about politics per se, its about well known human psychology.

    Which law prevented a third party from buying ads?

    Really? I mean, really? Not playing.

    The intent of these laws is to prevent somebody from using huge amounts of personal money to drown out everyone else, and de facto buy himself political power. They are not aimed at candidates who have truly broad-based fundraising.

    So which matters when a gun is fired? Who was aimed at, or who gets hit?

    If you can think of a fairer way to prevent the Bill Gateses of the world from dominating any race that happens to take their fancy, simply because they can, I’d love to hear it.

    Not my problem. That’s YOUR hang-up. My sense is that this problem, while troubling when it occurs, does not occur very often and is in fact diminishing noticeably due to modern communication.
    If you can up with a cure which doesn’t seem than the alleged disease to me, I’ll consider supporting it.

    Some of us remember when News was not profit driven and didn’t suck like it does today.

    Well the sucking part is a judgement call, one I do agree with. But news was always profit-driven. The changes came about because it became harder to make a profit. And we sort of have ourselves to blame for that. Media owners didn’t suddenly become greedy. Their business got tougher.

  43. daniel noe Says:

    I love the idea of listening and working together – as long as it doesn’t become an excuse to make a series of successively worse compromises.

  44. Nick Benjamin Says:

    You’re grossly underestimating the force of inertia, which bears directly on human nature. How often has Canada undertake a major policy direction and utterly changed paths? You’re suggesting that, because theoretically they could do this, that they actually do so often. People get used toi doing things a certain way, and as time passes, that way of doing things gets locked in. This has very little to do with forms of government and everything to do with human nature. My argument here is not about politics per se, its about well known human psychology.

    Two points:

    1) In Canada this is not considered a big deal. Therefore changing it would not be a major policy change. It would certianly be smaller then about 4/5 of the things any newly elected mzajority government announces at the Throne Speech, and significantly smaller then much a Minority (even a weak minority) would try.

    2) I’m not sure we’re actually disagreeing about substance here. I’m not claiming they love the system to death, or that it’s impossible to conceive of a system they’d prefer if it got implemented. I’m claiming that they like it enough that almost none of them want to change it.

    Contrast this with the US, where McCain-Feingold was bipartisan a ffew years ago, and elected officials frequently complain about how much time they have to spend fundraising.

    Really? I mean, really? Not playing.

    Neither was I.

    I googled “law prevents party from buying ads.” Got jack-squat. I tried a few variations.

    Given modern politics it’s quite possible some partisan hack creatively interpreted something that actually happened, made it a headline, and that headline got stuck in your head. So please tell me which law, who, and why.

    So which matters when a gun is fired? Who was aimed at, or who gets hit?

    It matters quite a bit legally. Accidentally shooting your hunting buddy doesn’t get you the death penalty anywhere. Never has.

    In this case as long as laws can be written that only apply Rescue Funds in races where a candidate is almost entirely-self-funded your criticism is irrelevant.

  45. kranky kritter Says:

    Nick, clearly you’ve heard of McCain-Feingold, since you mention it. Do you not know what its rules say, or are you just being coy so that you can respond with some precious hair-splitting argument about why it doesn’t fit the descrption I gave? From Wikipedia:

    The Court struck down a provision of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications.” [2] An “electioneering communication” was defined in McCain–Feingold as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or thirty days of a primary.

    I’m not sure we’re actually disagreeing about substance here. I’m not claiming they love the system to death, or that it’s impossible to conceive of a system they’d prefer if it got implemented. I’m claiming that they like it enough that almost none of them want to change it.

    You’re either misunderstanding or misapplying my argument. I’m speaking generally aboiut human nature, and how it tends to manifest when it comes to government and bureaucracy. My point is that big programs, especially entitlements, are way, way, way easier to establish than they are to later abolish. If taxpayer-financed elections were established. this would be an entitlement program for politicians. If the program were to act as onlt a supplement, allowing pols to continue to collect independent financing, it would primarily be a subsidy for the least popular candidates. That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. Not in an era of finite and in fact dwindling resources.

    Until America finds a demonstrably successful way to control healthcare cost growth, it should really avoid ANY new spending.

    So which matters when a gun is fired? Who was aimed at, or who gets hit?

    It matters quite a bit legally. Accidentally shooting your hunting buddy doesn’t get you the death penalty anywhere. Never has.

    Nifty evasion. Well played . . .

    . . . And to the person killed, it matters how, precisely?

    My argument could not be MORE relevant, which is why you spit the bit. It’s very opaque of you to insist that only what your idea is aimed at matters. Collateral damage matters, too.

    I don’t want the government to subsidize unpopular candidates. I don’t want the government to be the one who decides the terms under which some candidate has merit and deserves to be propped up. Nether do I want the government to decide when some candidate is somehow unfairly exercising his or her free speech by using his or her own money. It’s their money. (Maybe we could put a 20% tax on expenditures over 5 million or something . . .)

    Here’s the thing, though. How many prominent political offices have in fact been gained by undeserving self-financed don quixotes? Where is your lengthy laundry list of rich folks who bought their Presidencies, governorships, or seats in congress without a platform that enjoyed popular support?Seriously.

    If you can even generate it, and it includes all or mostly folks most of us have never heard of, then . . .

  46. WHQ Says:

    I don’t want the government to subsidize unpopular candidates. I don’t want the government to be the one who decides the terms under which some candidate has merit and deserves to be propped up. Nether do I want the government to decide when some candidate is somehow unfairly exercising his or her free speech by using his or her own money.</blockquote

    Would a party-based per-vote subsidy be acceptable to you, kk, in light of these specific objections?

    Until America finds a demonstrably successful way to control healthcare cost growth, it should really avoid ANY new spending.

    Do you mean net spending? Or would you argue against spending you were convinced would reduce spending elsewhere, resulting in a decrease in overall spending, simply because that initial spending were new?

    Nifty evasion. Well played . . .

    What’s with the presumption of bad faith? Nick seems to be arguing in a pretty straight-up manner from where I’m sitting. I could be wrong, but I’d presume good faith absent some pretty clear evidence to the contrary.

  47. WHQ Says:

    Let’s try that again, with all required brackets.

    I don’t want the government to subsidize unpopular candidates. I don’t want the government to be the one who decides the terms under which some candidate has merit and deserves to be propped up. Nether do I want the government to decide when some candidate is somehow unfairly exercising his or her free speech by using his or her own money.

    Would a party-based per-vote subsidy be acceptable to you, kk, in light of these specific objections?

    Until America finds a demonstrably successful way to control healthcare cost growth, it should really avoid ANY new spending.

    Do you mean net spending? Or would you argue against spending you were convinced would reduce spending elsewhere, resulting in a decrease in overall spending, simply because that initial spending were new?

    Nifty evasion. Well played . . .

    What’s with the presumption of bad faith? Nick seems to be arguing in a pretty straight-up manner from where I’m sitting. I could be wrong, but I’d presume good faith absent some pretty clear evidence to the contrary.

  48. WHQ Says:

    Damn, by html is bad today…. I meant to blockquote “Until America finds a demonstrably successful way to control healthcare cost growth, it should really avoid ANY new spending.”

  49. kranky kritter Says:

    Would a party-based per-vote subsidy be acceptable to you, kk, in light of these specific objections?

    I’d need to know a LOT more about what you were describing in order to say. Are you suggesting that a party would get the money based on their performance in the previous election? That sounds complicated and indirect. And it would also mean that independent candidates would not be able to get any subsidy. So it would entrench parties further, not my idea of a good time.

    If there’s any direction I do support in terms of leveling the playing field, it would for me involve making participation less expensive instead of simply subsidizing the expense. Most economists agree that one negative side affect of subsidies is to increase costs.

    So like I mentioned before, I’d like to see some number of low or no cost official public forums established. Talking out my ass here now, but what if, say, candidates were required, to get on a ballot, to appear before a council of regular citizens to answer questions, maybe questions that got established via some online forum where the ones that most folks felt needed to be asked were the ones that got asked. Then folks that passed a fairly “I seem to know what I’m talking about bar,” then they got access to more free forums, both live and online. They’d get to do free white room speeches that got broadcast, and so on.

    Do you mean net spending? Or would you argue against spending you were convinced would reduce spending elsewhere, resulting in a decrease in overall spending, simply because that initial spending were new?

    IF, and it’s a really big if, I were to support a net spending approach, the bar would have to be really high on proving a net reduction by increasing some spending. I’m definitely not ideologicial about it, If the overall mechanics of any approach could be shown to reduce costs, I’m one to that. But the more dots that need to be connected and the more presumptions that need to be made for the alleged savings to really occur, the more skeptical I get. But mostly, I was just saying that I think our spending (beginning w/the last Bush budget) is so out of control that I almost entirely refuse to consider funding even great new arguably worthwhile efforts until after we’ve demonstrated that we’re on a clear path towards brings expenses in line with revenue.

    What’s with the presumption of bad faith? Nick seems to be arguing in a pretty straight-up manner from where I’m sitting. I could be wrong, but I’d presume good faith absent some pretty clear evidence to the contrary.

    I don’t think I presumed anything. I think Nick evaded the obvious thrust of my point, which was what I restated, that collateral damage matters. It doesn’t seem like a presumption for me to call Nick out for what he clearly did. Nick seems very proud of what his proposed solution aims at, and doesn’t seem willing to do anything but to (twice now) dismiss the notion that his proposed solution brings about the side effect(s) I’ve pointed out.

  50. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Nick, clearly you’ve heard of McCain-Feingold, since you mention it. Do you not know what its rules say, or are you just being coy so that you can respond with some precious hair-splitting argument about why it doesn’t fit the descrption I gave? From Wikipedia:

    It could be that, or it could be that you were unclear. In the context of this debate third party would typically mean the Green Party, not Exxon-Mobil. It would be pretty hard to argue that was constitutional unless the Greens already agreed to a spending limit.

    And I’d argue that there’s a key difference: the corporations in this case had every right to buy ads. What they didn’t have was the right to buy unlimited ads, or to refuse to report the donations.

    You have every right to believe that freedom of speech (by definition) means freedom to dominate the debate financially, and do so anonimously. I have every right to disagree. It’s not a productive debate to have, because arguing definitions is inherently stupid, but if you insist…

    You’re either misunderstanding or misapplying my argument. I’m speaking generally aboiut human nature, and how it tends to manifest when it comes to government and bureaucracy. My point is that big programs, especially entitlements, are way, way, way easier to establish than they are to later abolish. If taxpayer-financed elections were established. this would be an entitlement program for politicians. If the program were to act as onlt a supplement, allowing pols to continue to collect independent financing, it would primarily be a subsidy for the least popular candidates. That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. Not in an era of finite and in fact dwindling resources.

    If your argument is that public financing is an entitlement analagous to Medicare you’re stretching the definition beyond the breaking point. Medicare is hard to change because millions depend on it. They think they have a moral right to it, in it’s current form.

    OTOH politicians abolish entitlements for themselves all the time. For decades the pols had defined benefit pension schemes. Those are gone.

    And kk, the numbers we’re talking about just are not big in the contdxt of multi-trillion Federal budget. Even the highest I mentions ($3 Billion) is under 0.1%. Your passion on the issue seems somewhat misplaced. It’s like getting worked up that your wife (salary $35k) gave $30 bucks to a begger.

    I don’t want the government to subsidize unpopular candidates. I don’t want the government to be the one who decides the terms under which some candidate has merit and deserves to be propped up. Nether do I want the government to decide when some candidate is somehow unfairly exercising his or her free speech by using his or her own money. It’s their money. (Maybe we could put a 20% tax on expenditures over 5 million or something . . .)

    Do you really prefer the current system, where our elected officials spend more time raising money then doing our business?

    I don’t feel terribly strongly on this issue, and have participated in this thread mostly as a thought exercize, but look at it this way:
    A House candidate who has to raise $500,000 has to raise $700 every day.

    I like the tax on personal expenditures idea. I’d say it’s almost neccesary in a post-Citizens United world.

    I don’t think I presumed anything. I think Nick evaded the obvious thrust of my point, which was what I restated, that collateral damage matters. It doesn’t seem like a presumption for me to call Nick out for what he clearly did. Nick seems very proud of what his proposed solution aims at, and doesn’t seem willing to do anything but to (twice now) dismiss the notion that his proposed solution brings about the side effect(s) I’ve pointed out.

    No shit a poorly crafted campaign finance law, or public funding bill, could screw somebody with good fundraising. That’s not news, and it’s not an argument against either campaign finance reform or public funding against elections in general. It’s an argument against specific proposals.

    If you wanna claim something specific I have actually argues, as opposed to something you think people like me generally argue for, does one of these things I’ll be happy to take that argument seriously.

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