The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.
Montana’s Senator Max Baucus introduced a Constitutional amendment in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, which said that corporations and foreign governments can spend unlimited dollars calling for the election or defeat of a candidate. Baucus’s proposed amendment:
“Section 1. Congress shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, a Federal office, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.
“Section 2. A State shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, public office in the State, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.
“Section 3. Nothing contained in this Amendment shall be construed to allow Congress or a State to make any law abridging the freedom of the press.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
To say the Baucus proposal is rushed, sloppily constructed and useless would be an understatement:
1. It is limited to corporations and labor organizations, but does not address all those organizations that are not incorporated, such as foreign governments, partnerships, etc.
2. “Power to regulate” is so broad-stroke as to have no limitations whatsoever, and so repeatedly would be in conflict with the First Amendment.
3. “. . . .abridging the freedom of the press” doesn’t include freedom of speech, which is what advertising, lobbying and political contributions are all about.
4. It covers “candidates,” but not issues. Those candidates, who have a defining position (i.e. “bring the troops home, tomorrow” or “no limit on gun ownership”), easily could be supported by mentioning the issue or the slogan, without mentioning the candidate’s name.
In short, it’s a typical “flag-burning” amendment, designed to demonstrate Baucus’s outrage and patriotism to his constituents, but with neither substance nor hope of passage.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity