White House senior advisor David Axelrod continued the administration’s campaign against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on ABC’s This Week:
But thinking about Teddy Roosevelt, I wonder what he would think about a bill that essentially allows for a corporate takeover of our elections, or a court decision. And that’s what we’re dealing with here. Under the ruling of the Supreme Court, any lobbyist could go into any legislator and say, if you don’t vote our way on this bill, we’re going to run a million-dollar campaign against you in your district. And that is a threat to our democracy.
He was of course echoing and defending President Obama’s declaration in the State of the Union address:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Axelrod and Obama are horrified at the idea of corporate contributions to elections. Who can imagine the impact? It’s too horrifying to contemplate.
Except – it turns out that Axelrod and Obama don’t have to imagine a political system wracked by corporate contributions. They’re already intimately familiar with such an undemocratic system. Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman points out:
But consider a state where corporations are already allowed to spend as much as they want on elections: Illinois.
That is, Obama and Axelrod spent their entire political careers in a state where corporations can make direct political contributions. Chapman isn’t impressed with the corporations’ impact:
Here, companies have established beyond doubt that this prerogative, when combined with $2.25, will get them a ride on the bus.
Illinois is something short of a corporate paradise. It ranks 30th among the states in its friendliness toward business. The Tax Foundation, which did the survey, complains of excessive sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes.
Illinois is one of a minority of states requiring employers to pay more than the federal minimum wage. It is notorious for heavy workers’ compensation costs. It puts no limits on the punitive damages a company can be assessed.
All this evidence should dispel the fear that future congressional debates will pit the senator from Exxon Mobil against her distinguished colleague from Bank of America. It turns out that where corporate expenditures are allowed, corporations a) don’t do much or b) don’t get much for what they do.
Whether or not that’s true, someone should ask Obama and Axelrod whether they accepted corporate contributions in Illinois, whether they fought to end that system, and whether they think democracy still exists in Illinois. But as far as I can tell, no one has, including ABC, NBC, and CNN, all of whom interviewed Axelrod this morning.