Weekly remarks: Obama on fundraising reforms; Rep. Charles Djou seeks less federal spending, no new taxes
As the political season heats up, Americans are already being inundated with the usual phone calls, mailings, and TV ads from campaigns all across the country. But this summer, they’re also seeing a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads, and we don’t know who’s paying for them.The reason this is happening is because of a decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case -- a decision that now allows big corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads -- and worst of all, they don’t even have to reveal who is actually paying for them. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don’t know if it’s BP. You don’t know if it’s a big insurance company or a Wall Street bank. A group can hide behind a phony name like “Citizens for a Better Future,” even if a more accurate name would be “Corporations for Weaker Oversight.”
We tried to fix this last month. There was a proposal supported by Democrats and Republicans that would’ve required corporate political advertisers to reveal who’s funding their activities. When special interests take to the airwaves, whoever is running and funding the ad would....
...have to appear in the advertisement and take responsibility for it -- like a company’s CEO or an organization’s biggest contributor. And foreign-controlled corporations and entities would be restricted from spending money to influence American elections -- just as they were in the past.You would think that making these reforms would be a matter of common sense. You’d think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections wouldn’t be a partisan issue.
But the Republican leaders in Congress said no. In fact, they used their power to block the issue from even coming up for a vote.
This can only mean that the leaders of the other party want to keep the public in the dark. They don’t want you to know which interests are paying for the ads. The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.
Well, we cannot allow the corporate takeover of our democracy. So we’re going to continue to fight for reform and transparency. And I urge all of you to take up the same fight. Let’s challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice or join us in stopping it.
At a time of such challenge for America, we can’t afford these political games. Millions of Americans are struggling to get by, and their voices shouldn’t be drowned out by millions of dollars in secret, special-interest advertising. Their voices should be heard.
Let’s not forget that a century ago, it was a Republican president -- Teddy Roosevelt -- who first tried to tackle the issue of corporate influence on our elections. He actually called it “one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.” And he proposed strict limits on corporate influence in elections. “Every special interest is entitled to justice,” he said. “but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office.”
We now face a similar challenge, and a similar opportunity to prevent special interests from gaining even more clout in Washington. This shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an issue that goes to whether or not we will have a democracy that works for ordinary Americans -- a government of, by, and for the people. Let’s show the cynics and the special interests that we still can. ####
I’m Congressman Charles Djou.
Ninety days ago, I earned the privilege of serving the people of Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District. Of course, it didn’t take me nearly that long to figure out that Washington does a lot more talking than listening -- and a lot more spending than saving.
For every problem facing our nation, the answer from Washington has been to spend and spend, and -- if that doesn’t work -- spend some more. The current administration in Washington told us that borrowing and spending billions would create jobs "immediately" and keep unemployment from exceeding 8%. They were wrong. Instead, we’ve lost millions of jobs and unemployment remains near 10%.
No price tag has been too high for Washington, and now we’re all paying the price. Altogether, we now owe more than $43,000 for each man, woman and child in the United States. That is a frightening number.
Even more frightening is the fact that the current administration in Washington intends to use this fiscal crisis to impose job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses. But we will not fix the deficit until we cut spending and have real economic growth -- and we will not have real economic growth if we keep raising taxes on small businesses. According to the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, half of small-business income in America will face higher taxes under the president’s plan.
If we keep spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much -- if we keep doing the same things, we’re going to get the same dismal results. It’s time to change direction. It’s time to listen.
All throughout this month, Republicans have been meeting with our constituents to hear their concerns. These town-hall meetings are part of our America Speaking Out project, which gives Americans a megaphone to make their voices heard and share their solutions for turning things around.
To participate in this nationwide effort, all you have to do is log on to AmericaSpeakingOut.com, post an idea of your own, or comment and vote on someone else’s. As we speak, thousands of ideas are percolating on America Speaking Out.
As part of this national conversation, Republicans have proposed better solutions to provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to get Americans working again.
Led by congressmen Paul Ryan [of Wisconsin] and Jeb Hensarling [of Texas], Republicans on the House Budget Committee -- a panel on which I serve -- have identified more than $1.3 trillion in Washington spending we can cut right now. From canceling unspent "stimulus" funds and TARP bailout money to freezing government pay and government hiring, these common-sense proposals recognize that what our economy needs is more private sector jobs, not more public sector programs.
Of course, this is just a start. Much more needs to be done to make sure Washington has gone on its last spending spree, but these are steps we can take right now to demonstrate to taxpayers at home and allies abroad that America is serious about getting its fiscal house in order.
When Congress returns in September, Speaker Pelosi should bring our $1.3 trillion in proposed spending cuts to the floor for immediate consideration. Even if the powers-that-be in Washington do not support less government and less spending, they should at least provide those of us who do with a chance to give the American people the common-sense fiscal discipline they are demanding.
Visit AmericaSpeakingOut.com to learn more and have your say. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America. Aloha and Mahalo. ####
Photos: Steven Senne / Associated Press (file); Office of Rep. Charles Djou (Djou and family); Associated Press.