"What will the effect be of the Supreme Court's Citizens United on elections?" Scott Lemieux asks below. For all the reasons he describes, the decision is enormous, radical, and wrong, and it will undoubtedly have sweeping impact on future election law as well as other areas of First Amendment and corporate law.
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, file)
The consequences of Republican Scott Brown's victory in the race for the Senate seat from Massachusetts fall into two categories. The first involves the optics of the race itself and the message Brown's victory sends, about Obama's first year, the economy, anti-incumbent sentiment, and the generalized "fuck 'em all" feeling that seems to burst forth in American politics at times of stress.
At a Brookings Institution event this morning, four of the most prominent mainstream scholar/advocates of campaign finance reform set forward a new approach -- albeit one that might seem familiar to Prospect readers.
Sen. Tom Harkin speaks at the Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public on Feb. 27, 2009. (The National Academy of Sciences/Patricia Pooladi)
As the Senate's near-miss passage of health-care reform faded in the rearview mirror, the road ahead became visible: Such victories will be rare, at least under the current configuration of the Senate and partisan alignments. The primary obstacle, of course, is that the Senate's right of unlimited debate creates a de facto supermajority requirement of 60 votes -- which is technically achievable, but barely -- to do anything. As our wandering colleague Ezra Klein put it succinctly at the end of last year, "After health care, we need Senate reform."
Before the holidays, I wrote a column, "Don't Fear the Fiscal Reapers," arguing that a commission to address the long-term fiscal crisis need not be the disaster that many progressives fear -- an excuse for massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare -- but could actually do some good, including providing cover for the increases in revenues that we desperately need.