Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And Then Some Folks On The Left Are Just Big, Bad, Nasty Censors

I've been trying to be as unbiased and as nice as possible in analyzing the reactions to the Citizens United campaign finance/free speech decision, but this here , which I received in my e-mail from the activist group CREDO Action, has me convinced that some folks really are just interested in squashing the speech they don't like. I don't know much about the group, nor do I remember why I'm receiving e-mail from them, but their petition expresses support for a number of House bills sponsored by Representative Alan Grayson:

These include:

1. The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

2. The Public Company Responsibility Act (H.R. 4435): Prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.

3. The End Political Kickbacks Act (H.R. 4434): Prevents for-profit corporations that receive government money from making political contributions, and limits the amount that employees of those companies can contribute.

4. The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act (H.R. 4432): Requires publicly traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than for promoting their products and services.

5. The Ending Corporate Collusion Act (H.R. 4433): Applies antitrust law to industry PACs.

6. The End the Hijacking of Shareholder Funds Act (H.R. 4487): This bill requires the approval of a majority of a public company's shareholders for any expenditure by that company to influence public opinion on matters not related to the company's products or services.

The scary thing about nearly all these proposals is the interchangeable use of the terms "political contributions" and "political expenditures" and it's either stupid or downright dishonest for those terms to be lumped together as part of a response to Citizens United. As I've detailed from day one, nothing in the recent Supreme Court decision has any impact whatsoever on the existing restrictions on political contributions. Citizens United was about political expenditures, which as you may recall can more simply be described as "speech." And any way you slice it, a 500% surtax on political speech, so that every dollar spent would cost you five dollars in taxes, certainly smacks of censorship to me.

What's also interesting are the various proposals that would place restrictions on what corporations can do outside the sphere of promoting their products and services, requiring specific SEC filings and the approval of majority of shareholders. It's interesting because this extends speech regulations beyond the electoral realm all the way into the field of charity. If these bills were to pass, and a company wanted to do some sort of promotion with the Red Cross, there would be these additional hoops to jump through. I don't know if these ultimately amount to restrictions on speech, but the it's sort of crazy that you'd want to make it harder for corporations to be involved in charity.


Post a Comment

<< Home