After seven years of relentless Republican obstructionism, President Obama has finally had enough and has decided to play hardball with the legislative terrorists in Congress that have done everything in their power to halt the march of progress and social development in our nation. The President recently made headlines with an executive order to close loopholes that would allow people to circumvent the firearm background check system; now he’s setting his sights on the flood of dark money that is tarnishing the integrity of our political system and slowly unraveling the very foundation of one of the world’s oldest democracies.
He is “seriously considering” a proposal that would force government contractors to reveal their contributions to politically active groups like Super PACs and lobbying firms, in an attempt to force more transparency and accountability. This order would have wide-ranging and significant effects, as Public Citizen Congress Watch estimates that 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies including Exxon Mobil, Apple, General Motors and General Electric had federal contracts worth more than $100,000 over the previous year.
Democrats have applauded the idea; 155 House Democrats have sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to pass this order. In a statement, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that “requiring corporations to disclose their unlimited spending in our elections was the only path the misguided Citizens United Supreme Court decision left us to protect the sanctity of our democracy.”
In what will be a surprise to absolutely nobody, Republican politicians are horrified by the idea that they will no longer be able to deny how closely they vote and legislate based on the whims of their corporate donors, with little regard to the needs or desires of the people who elected them. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained bitterly and somehow without irony about the president’s “audacity” and lack of “respect for the process:”
“I believe that’s the word he used, right? Audacious? My goodness. I mean, does the president not have any respect for the process? Goodness gracious. By that standard, President Obama is really Wilsonian, as if there are just no boundaries beyond which he cannot push. Apparently, their strategy is to overreach everywhere for as long as they can.”
It is infuriating to hear McConnell piteously moan about “respect for the process,” given that he has led a Republican Congress that has failed to pass any substantial legislation that would work to rectify some of the issues facing our nation from gun violence and immigration reform, but instead has turned what should be their most basic duty – passing a budget – into an annual bloody and protracted political pissing contest that has played havoc with our economy and credit rating. Incidentally, McConnell’s Congress killed the 2012 DISCLOSE bill that would have done the exact same thing this order would do.
This is an executive order our country desperately needs. Multinational corporations and lobbying firms hold far too much sway over our politicians, and the obstructionism of Congress and the inability to get any substantial legislation passed is a direct symptom of a deep addiction to money. Lobbyists reaped millions in profits last year, feeding off of contentious issues like blocking environmental protection legislation and trying to derail President Obama’s historic nuclear peace deal. Federal contractors made a killing off of the Iraq War, when Dick Cheney and his cronies privatized half the jobs normally done by American military forces – at the outrageous cost of $189 billion to taxpayers. Now they’re scheming to send our troops back to the Middle East by funneling money to Republican politicians. Neither group will be happy to hear the President’s latest plan – but the American people will be ecstatic!
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.