Politics/Law/Government

Is the House Tea Party Caucus paving the way to campaign finance reform?

In turning its back on big business, the Tea Party Caucus may have taken an important step in freeing itself from the influence of big money.

Tea Party Caucus member, I mean hominid bust at the National Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tea Party Caucus member, I mean hominid bust at the National Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In a New York Times article on October 9 titled Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P., Eric Lipton, Nicholas Confessore, and Nelson D. Schwartz report:

As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain. … [Business] leaders and trade groups said … the tools that have served them in the past — campaign contributions, large memberships across the country, a multibillion-dollar lobbying apparatus — do not seem to be working.

Do you see what’s going on here? It’s usually progressives who oppose Citizens United and the influence of big money on elections. But it’s the Tea Party Caucus in the House who have thrown down the gauntlet on a kind of campaign reform. Representative and Tea Party Caucus member Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) is quoted in the article.”

“We have got to quit worrying about the next election, and start worrying about the country,” said [Neugebauer], who sits on the House Financial Services Committee and is a recipient of significant donations from Wall Street.

It seems as if he’s biting the hand that feeds him. The more likely reason he’s burning his bridges is because he’s safely made it to the other side – to a land where he probably feels confident of re-election because, due in part to redistricting, enough of his constituents in his districts are extremists like him.

Another reason that the Tea Party Caucus is turning its back on big business is that its members are funded by the anti-tax, anti-social welfare program Koch brothers and other rich extremist libertarians . (What’s left unexplained is how it helps the Kochs to promote a caucus that’s not friendly to big business. Perhaps their seeming lack of concern for the interests of other corporations is that so vast is their wealth they feel no need to team up.)

Nevertheless, in turning their back on a large money source, the Tea Party Caucus may have taken the first big step towards campaign reform. Progressives could take a lesson from their courage. Okay, maybe it’s not courage, just insanity. But still, give some credit where it’s due.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

4 replies »

  1. The United States doesn’t need “campaign reform” or anymore “cute rhetoric”; it needs a VOTER REFORMATION. In the next election we need to vote every incumbent out of office. As long as voters re-elect their incumbents, please don’t expect any quick and great improvements in our problems getting solved, locally, or in Washington. I believe this is a rational presumption. Also, I’m reasonable and rational enough to know that all our problems will never be solved, completely, regardless of what’s “reformed”, but in the name of economics 101 and accounting 101, our government should be able to at least balance the budget and their checkbook consistently. Is that too much to ask? Simply doing this will do wonders for all concerned.

  2. Interesting solution Rich but I see a potential fatal flaw in voting all the incumbents out. If one assumes private money owns or at least has untoward influence on most politicians then how would scrapping one batch insure that the replacement batch wasn’t bought and paid for as well?

    The same thing goes for term limits. As a student of human nature, I suspect if we limit their time in office they’d just have to steal faster.

    I’m not sure how long you’ve been following the conversations around here but one of the most promising ideas I’ve seen floated is a complete uncoupling of private money from public office. Campaign finance reform via constitutional amendment if need be.

    As to spending within our means, absolutely! We’re going to have to cut those money tendrils mentioned above first though. Right now war, and the production of war machinery is just too profitable and addictive of a drug to be given up by corporations and their sock puppet politicians voluntarily.

    • If one assumes private money owns or at least has untoward influence on most politicians then how would scrapping one batch insure that the replacement batch wasn’t bought and paid for as well?

      Voting all the incumbents out wouldn’t change the overlords. It would be a message to the “public servants” themselves, who have a profound vested interest in staying in office.