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04.30 Yes, I am a climate alarmist. Global warming is a crime against humanity

04.30 In Photos: Peoples Climate March Draws 'One Hell of A Lot of People'

04.30 EPA wipes its climate change site as protesters march in Washington

04.29 Trump has it Backwards: It is Dirty Coal that’s Killing Green Jobs

04.29 Children can’t play if they can’t breathe because our air is so polluted [good government is needed]

04.29 The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future

04.28 1.2 million children in the US have lead poisoning. We’re only treating half of them. [willfully ignoring children's health so the rich can get tax breaks—to be even richer—is immoral and costs much more long-term]

04.28 East coast readies for fresh climate fight as Trump eyes more offshore drilling [the Idiocracy is growing]

04.28 Air pollution plan cannot be delayed, high court tells government

04.27 Trump’s hollow promise on the opioid epidemic: GOP health plan would slash Medicaid funding for drug treatment

04.27 The Last time there was this much CO2 in the air, Florida was under Water [Trump will sell his properties before admitting to a problem]

04.26 Discovery of plastic-eating worms offers chance to finally get rid of world's growing piles of litter

04.26 People whose 'brain age' is older than their real age more likely to die early

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04.27 Authoritarians Like Trump Pushing Global Press Freedoms to 'Tipping Point' [stamping out inconvenient truths]

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04.30 Trump picks former anti-abortion leader for health and human services post

04.30 Donald Trump blames constitution for chaos of his first 100 days

04.29 Why Are House Dems Treating 2016 Campaign Autopsy Like a Classified Document? [obsessive money focus requires compromises that kill best and most-efficient public programs and policy—and that makes the public very very angry]

04.29 Trickle Down Devastation: A Single Mom Responds to Trump’s Tax Plan

04.29 With Support Surging, Progressives Push Pelosi on Single-Payer

04.29 Watchdogs: Trump's Disastrous 100 Days Fueling "Golden Era of Activism"

04.28 'We Reject Politics of Fear': Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

04.28 Red Flags as Trump Team Dodges on Tax Plan's Impact on Middle Class

04.28 For First Time Ever, Majority of House Dems Support 'Medicare-for-All' Bill

04.28 Bernie Sanders takes aim at Trump on climate ahead of march in DC

04.28 Failing the ‘Mnuchin Test’

04.28 America, From Exceptionalism to Nihilism

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04.27 10 signs Trump’s top Homeland Security cop wants to drag America into a paranoid apocalyptic police state

High Crimes?

04.29 Cruelty or keeping it in the family? What I learned from India's slaveholders

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04.27 Digital Rights Groups Vow to Fight FCC Chair's Net Neutrality Attack "Tooth and Nail"

04.27 Brazilians fight back against corruption– with the help of a purple plug-in [we hope app is updated for corrupt politicians everywhere!]

04.26 'Truly Dumb': Why $2.4 Trillion Corporate Tax Cut Will Not Magically Pay for Itself

04.26 Why Is Congress In Such A Rush To Strip The Library Of Congress Of Oversight Powers On The Copyright Office?

04.25 The Right’s Green Awakening

04.25 Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit Presidency'

International

04.30 Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group

04.30 'Hundreds of us will die in Raqqa’: the women fighting Isis

04.30 Turkey blocks Wikipedia under law designed to protect national security

04.30 Turkey blocks Wikipedia under law designed to protect national security

04.29 'Europe's dirty secret': officials on Chios scramble to cope with rising tensions

04.29 Brazilians sick of corrupt politicians hit the streets to protest austerity measures

04.28 40 years later, the mothers of Argentina’s 'disappeared' refuse to be silent

04.28 Europe could allow a united Ireland to join EU after Brexit

04.28 Le Pen's replacement steps down after allegedly casting doubt on Nazi gas chambers

04.27 UK should axe state pension for rich people, says OECD [the moral choice for all nations]

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  Print view: Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley
BOOK REVIEW:

Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley

by Gerald E. Scorse
Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks.

Dollars deliver messages in a new book by “Dollar Bill” Bradley, and the former Rhodes scholar, NBA star, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate has no doubt where the dollars should and shouldn’t be going. They should be pouring FDR-style into job creation, and they shouldn’t be donated to politicians, especially dollars from corporations.

Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks. “At the core of the Washington culture is money,” the chapter begins. “It burdens politicians with the need to raise it. And when they’ve raised it, it compromises them.”

Bradley writes that he spent $1.68 million running for the Senate in 1978. In 2000, running for the same New Jersey seat, Jon Corzine spent more than $62 million, “most of it his own." While Bradley is scalding about Citizens United, he says the Supreme Court’s wrong-headedness on political donations actually took root in Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976. In that decision “the Court said that the money spent by an individual on his or her own political campaign was political speech, protected under the free-speech clause of the Constitution, and therefore could not be limited. This opened the floodgates for rich people [e.g., Corzine] to finance their own efforts.”

It defies common sense, Bradley says. “In Buckley, the Supreme Court said in effect that it was just fine that the candidate with little money only has a megaphone while the candidate with a lot of money has a microphone.” This laid the groundwork for the corporations-are-people Citizens United ruling, under which “the Supreme Court has approved unlimited contributions by super PACs than can steal elections through widely broadcast lies.”

The black-robed Supreme Court may be clueless and tone-deaf, but ordinary white collar and blue collar workers can easily connect the dots. As Bradley puts it, “There is something fundamentally wrong when a lobbyist—whether representing business or labor—comes to a legislator’s office to plead his client’s case and then four hours later appears at the legislator’s fund-raiser in a nearby restaurant with a $10,000 check. The link between money and policy must be broken.”

What needs to be established (re-established, really) is the link between government spending and job creation: “When it comes to proposed federal action to create jobs, every dollar spent in the current environment of declining confidence in government should go to the establishment of a specific job; people have to see the connection between their tax dollars and job creation....When a government’s credibility has been damaged for whatever reason, it cannot shrink from boldness. It must act in a big way to generate more jobs with a short-term, mid-term and long-term strategy.”

Bradley lays out ideas for all three periods, and he draws on his own childhood to invoke the direct federal job creation that took place under FDR:

“What most people remember about President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression are the Works Progress Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which created jobs for Americans in building schools, parks, roads, dams, bridges. In the small town in Missouri where I grew up, the high school was a PWA project built in 1939. Today, over seventy years later, it stands as a testimony to far-sighted government leadership. We need new public investment in public goods that will last another seventy years....The New America Foundation study estimates that a $1.2 trillion investment in much-needed infrastructure over a five-year period would generate 5.52 million jobs in each year of the program. There is no other stimulus that could create so many jobs and leave behind a seventy-year foundation for economic growth. Given low interest rates, there will never be a cheaper time to float thirty-year reconstruction bonds. Government-subsidized personal consumption (i.e., tax cuts) in the current climate of debt de-leveraging cannot work; public investment that directly creates jobs can.”

Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United.

Is there any hope for more stimulus spending? For campaign finance reform? It’s hard to imagine the former; as for the latter, it’s easy to imagine but another matter to pull off. Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United. Bradley’s best-case solution would supersede Buckley and Citizens United with a constitutional amendment “stating that federal, state and local governments can limit the total amount of spending in a political campaign....If that were combined with public financing for whatever amount was permitted by the campaign finance laws, we would have returned government to the people.”

Right now, though, we’re nowhere near returning government to the people; right now we’re heading into the most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history, bent on handing over government to those with the most dollars.


Copyright 2012 Gerald E. Scorse. Op-eds by the author have appeared on numerous websites and in major newspapers.



Copyright © 2012 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

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This story was published on June 7, 2012.

 

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