Cross-partisan movement calls on president and presidential candidates
to commit to concrete actions that will “fix our politics”
NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks today applauded President Barack Obama’s view that “the most important thing” we must do as a county is “fix our politics.”
“In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama gave voice to what those of us at the grassroots level already know: ‘democracy breaks down when the average person feels that their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.’ Our country is at that tipping point right now,” Weeks said. “Poll after poll has found that Americans of all political stripes agree – overwhelmingly – that money has too much influence over our politics. Unlimited campaign money is corrupting our government, and voters have reason to be angry about that.”
“It was refreshing to hear President Obama address the problem in such a high-visibility way,” Weeks said. “Too many elected officials shy away from talking about it. And far too many elected officials have actually voted against measures that would help fix the problem.”
As one example, Weeks cited last week’s vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives against a bill to study proposed constitutional amendments that would help limit the influence of money in politics. He also noted the US Senate voted in September 2014 against sending a proposed constitutional amendment to the states for consideration.
President Obama endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling last February.
In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama also endorsed other parts of the NH Rebellion agenda: ending gerrymandering and making it easier for citizens to vote, saying “over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms.”
Weeks noted that campaign finance reform advocates have studied the influence of political spending on federal contracting, and are calling for measures to increase transparency.
“This is one area where President Obama could, himself, make a big difference,” Weeks said.
“Congress has been moving away from transparency,” Weeks observed, noting thatthe federal budget passed last month specifically prohibited the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing a new rule requiring corporations to disclose their political spending.
“But President Obama could take executive action, and issue an Executive Order requiring at least those corporations that contract with the federal government to disclose their political spending,” Weeks said.
A 2014 Sunlight Foundation study found that “on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.”
“We the people – taxpayers – are the ones who pay for government contracts,” Weeks said. “We deserve to know how much federal contractors are spending, trying to influence the budget and contracting decisions. We deserve to have transparency in that process.”
“We hope President Obama will follow his State of the Union remarks with concrete action,” Weeks added. “Congress may be moving in the wrong direction on transparency, but President Obama can issue an Executive Order and help us move a little bit more in the right direction.”
Weeks also called on the candidates for president to take clear positions on the issue.
Members of the Rebellion have been attending campaign events, asking each candidate “What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?” Candidates’ answers can be found here.