Thursday, January 21, 2010

Campaign Finance Bombshell

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, totally eviscerated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. As the NY Times reports: "Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.The ruling was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace will corrupt democracy."

Well, all bitterness aside, this means that it won't be long before the inequitable city campaign finance law-the one that Mike Bloomberg (yes, that Mike Bloomberg) called a model for all to follow-goes into the dustbin of history. Which, to us, is a good thing because,as we have said before, the current law is patently unfair to business and overly favorable to labor-exempting unions from the restrictions imposed on all others.

Can you just here the screams of anguish over at the Times? The paper has championed this bit of social engineering-and has even topped the mayor in calling the local campaign finance law, "one of the best and fairest," while at the same time supporting, without any hint of irony, the Bloomberg spend-a-thon in the last election cycle. Without double standards there wouldn't be any over at the Times.

And the Times also failed to even mention the role of the WFP in its discussion of the need for more spending limits on business in a call for reform of the state's election law. Here's their hilarious money quote: "Politicians in New York City were embarrassed enough to create one of the best and fairest campaign financing systems in the country. Albany’s lawmakers, who know no shame, shrugged and did next to nothing. The system is just as disgraceful today as it was then."

So we must assume that apoplexy reigns now over on Eight Avenue, but as we have said the current city law is badly flawed: "The goal of campaign finance reform should be greater transparency-voters should know who's contributing so that they can better understand the interests that each candidate may be favoring. An unlevel playing field is, well, unfair, and the mayor and the speaker should insure that the rules apply equally to all the players in the system."

And now the SCOTUS presciently agrees with us; and the local law will crumble quickly since the legal challenge is on the same constitutional basis as that of the successful suit that formed the basis on today's court ruling. As we have commented before-and speaking of prescience, check out this article in the City Journal from 2008-the law in question protects certain rights while threatening those of other less protected classes of people-like lobbyists for instance. It deserves to be cast aside.