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Forum Post: Presto! The DISCLOSE Act Disappears

Posted 2 years ago on July 17, 2012, 4:51 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5878)
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Presto! The DISCLOSE Act Disappears

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 13:36 By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10390-presto-the-disclose-act-disappears

Ask any magician and they'll tell you that the secret to a successful magic trick is misdirection — distracting the crowd so they don't realize how they're being fooled. Get them watching your left hand while your right hand palms the silver dollar: "Now you see it, now you don't." The purloined coin now belongs to the magician.

Just like democracy. Once upon a time conservatives supported the full disclosure of campaign contributors. Now they oppose it with their might — and magic, especially when it comes to unlimited cash from corporations. My goodness, they say, with a semantic wave of the wand, what's the big deal?: nary a single Fortune 500 company had given a dime to the super PACs. (Even that's not entirely true, by the way.)

Meanwhile the other hand is poking around for loopholes, stuffing millions of secret corporate dollars into non-profit, tax-exempt organizations called 501(c)s that funnel the money into advertising on behalf of candidates or causes. Legally, in part because the Federal Election Commission does not consider them political committees, they can keep it all nice and anonymous, never revealing who's really behind the donations or the political ads they buy. This is especially handy for corporations — why risk offending customers by revealing your politics or letting them know how much you're willing to shell out for a permanent piece of an obliging politician?

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Mitch McConnell and the Corporate War on Transparency

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 10:34 By Donald Cohen, Cry Wolf Project | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10379-mitch-mcconnell-and-the-corporate-war-on-transparency

Senator Mitch McConnell argued in 1987 that we should reject limits on corporate campaign contributions and instead, embrace public disclosure of campaign contributions important "so," he said, "voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate." He was right. Telling voters about the sources of political campaign contributions would help them understand about the influences on our elected representatives, and hopefully level the playing field between the powerful and the powerless in society.

But this week, McConnell is leading the fight against the DISCLOSE act that would plug legal loopholes that allow campaigns to keep their donors anonymous.

McConnell argues that disclosing the multi-million dollar mega-donations from corporations and America's millionaires and billionaires to secretive groups running political attacks ads is somehow a violation of their free speech rights. In other words enlightened, informed democracy is, well, anti-democratic.

The importance of an informed public – and especially an informed voting public – is enshrined in our nation's civic values and governing statutes such as the Freedom of Information Act and federal and state campaign donor disclosure laws.

Yet even these forward thinking laws failed to anticipate the complex schemes flooding staggering sums of money into American politics from corporations and the wealthy.

Tax exempt groups such as Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Chamber of Commerce are taking advantage of blind spots in the U.S. tax code that allows these groups to run "issue based" attack ads without being subjected to the donor disclosure requirements by the Federal Elections Commission that candidates and independent political expenditure campaigns must follow.

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Will Your State Refuse to Provide Medicaid Coverage to Needy Adults?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 14:19 By Christopher Francis Petrella, Truthout | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/10318-will-your-state-refuse-to-provide-medicaid-coverage-to-needy-adults

Nearly two weeks have passed since the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama's signature health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although the mandate directing "individuals to purchase insurance" remains intact, the provision that would have required each state to provide Medicaid coverage to all working adults with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) was axed. Had the Medicaid stipulation passed - arguably the greatest virtue of the ACA - then every family of four earning less than roughly $31,000 would have been covered. This would have resulted in coverage for over 16 million new enrollees, or almost half of all those newly insured under the ACA.

Medicaid was originally enacted in 1965 to enable states to provide medical assistance, as well as rehabilitative and other services, for certain families and individuals whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of medically necessary services. The program has evolved over time and today constitutes the nation's primary health insurance program for low-income and high-need families and individuals.

Now that Medicaid expansion is non-compulsory, however, there has been great speculation as to how many currently uninsured individuals will ultimately gain coverage under the law. At the time of this writing, only 13 states plus Washington D.C. have agreed - some formally, some informally - to participate in a program for which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the federal government will bear 93 percent of the tab over the first nine years of implementation. In total, 37 states have either opted out of the program or are currently undecided.

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