McCutcheon on the Hudson

by

Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC removed limits on the total amount that rich donors could contribute to all candidates in an electoral cycle. The need for a voluntary system of public campaign financing for candidates to run with no-strings-attached clean money is now greater than ever. With the recent passage of the state budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders missed an opportunity to enact just such a system. What New Yorkers got was a watered down partial public financing system for Comptroller races only. That minor “reform” does not change the basic picture: New York has the best government money can buy. The “reform,” based on New York City’s system, throws good public money after bad private money, and was justifiably opposed by Senate Republicans (who have offered no alterative to the corruption-inducing status quo). It is inferior to the partial public financing system in place in New York City because it has no limits on the amount of private money a candidate may spend. The New York City system caps private spending for candidates who opt for public financing at the same level as the maximum public grant they can receive. The “reform” does nothing to halt the Governor’s voracious gobbling of contributions from the super rich (who are amply rewarded with tax cuts in the budget). Forty-five percent of his re-election campaign fund came from donations of $40,000 or more, eighty percent from donations of $10,000 or more, and less than one percent from donations of under $1,000. Does anybody believe that the last minute pro charter school changes in the state budget had nothing to do with the nearly $400,000 in donations to Cuomo from hedge fund operators who are board members of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy and the $5 million attack ad campaign against Mayor de Blasio by a pro charter PAC funded by billionaires? Watered down partial public financing is akin to presidential primary matching funds: a reform that doesn’t reform. It is the campaign finance reform equivalent of Obamacare (compared to Medicare for All, Obamacare does too little to meet the health care needs of millions of Americans, and nothing at all for millions more who neither qualify for it nor for Medicaid). And like Obamacare, it makes genuine reform—real progress—harder to achieve as advocates for genuine change will be told ‘we did campaign finance reform; go away.’ New Yorkers deserve better. If we could start from scratch—with the aim of eliminating pay-to-play and other corrupt practices—what might a redesigned campaign funding system look like? We’re confident that it would appear identical to the systems in place in Maine and Arizona, also known as Clean Money, Clean Elections. Clean Money provides full public financing for qualified candidates, removes “dirty” private money, tightens financial reporting, applies equally to all political parties, and mandates that candidates who receive public campaign funding participate in debates. In Arizona and Maine, candidates qualify for equal public campaign grants by raising a reasonable number of $5 contributions from voters in their district to demonstrate support. The $5 donations go to the state’s Clean Money Fund. The grants are sufficient to get the candidate’s message to all voters. Candidates who opt for public money may not raise private money. They only use clean public money. Supporters of partial public financing will likely accuse us of having the ‘perfect be the enemy of the good.’ ‘This is the best Albany can do, you’re asking too much; be realistic.’ Nonsense. Arizona is more progressive than New York? Were the supporters of pseudo-reform to level with New Yorkers, to sponsor a genuine, open debate on the competing proposals, Clean Money would win hands down. Fortunately for New Yorkers, there is a Clean Money bill in both the Assembly (A4116-2013) and the Senate (S4501-2013). Ask your legislators to press for hearings, debate and votes on these bills. New Yorkers deserve no less. Howie Hawkins was the Green candidate for New York Governor in 2010 and is seeking the Green nomination in 2014.  Steve Breyman is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator in the Green Shadow Cabinet.  

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz