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Weekly remarks: Obama on political fundraising; Greg Walden on stopping spending and tax hikes

September 18, 2010 |  3:00 am

Democrats Barack Obama and Harry Reid at another fundraiser for Reid in Las Vegas 7-8-10

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

Back in January, in my State of the Union Address, I warned of the danger posed by a Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United. This decision overturned decades of law and precedent. It gave the special interests the power to spend without limit – and without public disclosure – to run ads in order to influence elections. 

Now, as an election approaches, it’s not just a theory. We can see for ourselves how destructive to our democracy this can become. We see it in the flood of deceptive attack ads sponsored by special interests using front groups with misleading names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads or who’s paying for them. Even foreign-controlled corporations seeking to influence our democracy are able to spend freely in order to swing an election toward a candidate they prefer. 

We’ve tried to fix this with a new law – one that would simply require that you say who you....

... are and who’s paying for your ad. This way, voters are able to make an informed judgment about a group’s motivations. Anyone running these ads would have to stand by their claims. And foreign-controlled corporations would be restricted from spending money to influence elections, just as they were before the Supreme Court opened up this loophole.

This is common sense.  In fact, this is the kind of proposal that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on for decades.  Yet, the Republican leaders in Congress have so far said “no.” They’ve blocked this bill from even coming up for a vote in the Senate.  It’s politics at its worst.  But it’s not hard to understand why. 

Over the past two years, we have fought back against the entrenched special interests – weakening their hold on the levers of power in Washington.  We have taken a stand against the worst abuses of the financial industry and health insurance companies.  We’ve rolled back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.  And we’ve restored enforcement of common sense rules to protect clean air and clean water.  We have refused to go along with business as usual. 

Now, the special interests want to take Congress back, and return to the days when lobbyists wrote the laws.  And a partisan minority in Congress is hoping their defense of these special interests and the status quo will be rewarded with a flood of negative ads against their opponents.  It’s a power grab, pure and simple.  They’re hoping they can ride this wave of unchecked influence all the way to victory. 

What is clear is that Congress has a responsibility to act.  But the truth is, any law will come too late to prevent the damage that has already been done this election season.  That is why, any time you see an attack ad by one of these shadowy groups, you should ask yourself, who is paying for this ad? Is it the health insurance lobby? The oil industry?  The credit card companies? 

But more than that, you can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice.  Because no matter how many ads they run – no matter how many elections they try to buy – the power to determine the fate of this country doesn’t lie in their hands.  It lies in yours.  It’s up to all of us to defend that most basic American principle of a government of, by, and for the people.  What’s at stake is not just an election.  It’s our democracy itself.  Thank you.     ####

Capitol Hill at Night

Weekly Remarks by Rep. Greg Walden, as provided by Republican Party leadership 

Hello, I’m Representative Greg Walden, and I work for the people of Oregon’s Second Congressional District.
 
Before being sent to Congress, like many Americans, I worked for myself.  My wife and I were small business owners for nearly 22 years.  So we know what it’s like to sign the front of a payroll check, and scratch out a business plan on the back of a napkin.
 
You know, it’s this entrepreneurial spirit, unfortunately, [that] is lost on the powers-that-be in Washington, who think that change comes in the form of 2,000-page monstrosities that transfer money and freedom from the people to the government. 
 
Americans have had enough of permanent bailouts, government takeovers, and ‘stimulus’ spending sprees.  Democrats’ job-killing policies have left our small businesses tied up in uncertainty and our economy bogged down by nearly 10 percent unemployment. 
 
America is speaking out, and it’s time Washington started listening.

Oregon Republican Representative Greg Walden Republicans have warned that excessive government spending, along with uncertainty facing small businesses, are hampering job creation in America, and we’ve called for bipartisan action this month to address both of these issues.  
 
First, Republicans want to stop all of the tax hikes that are set to take effect on January 1st. Now, for his part, President Obama proposes raising taxes on half of small business income in America.  But economists, and frankly, a growing chorus of Democrats in Congress, agree with us that raising taxes on anyone in a struggling economy – especially small businesses – is the exact wrong thing to do. 
 
Next, Republicans want to cut non-security government spending to 2008 levels, before all of the bailouts, before the government takeovers and the ‘stimulus’ spending sprees began.

You know, American families and small businesses have been making really tough choices over the last couple of years to cut back spending and to adjust to this new economic reality.  Why should the federal government be any different?   Our plan saves taxpayers nearly $100 billion and represents a first step on the path to fiscal sanity so that we can stop piling debt on our kids and grandkids. 

“Now, with just days remaining in this legislative session, House Republican Leader John Boehner has informed Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Republicans are ready to work together to enact this two-point jobs plan immediately.  
 
Even as we seek to act quickly, we must also act openly.  You know, taxpayers were rightly outraged when Democratic Leaders tried to short-circuit the rules and rig the final vote to force President Obama’s government takeover of health care through Congress.

The American people didn’t stand for this power grab then, and they won’t stand for it now – especially with their jobs, their families, and their futures at stake.
 
That’s why Leader Boehner has asked Speaker Pelosi to assure the American people that she will allow nothing short of a full up-or-down vote on bills to cut spending and stop all of the looming tax hikes. 

This way, the will of the people and their elected representatives can be heard.  Anything less fails our economy and provides further evidence that Democrats are more committed to preserving their power than helping our economy.
 
If President Obama and Washington Democrats are truly focused on creating jobs, we should take action immediately to cut government spending and stop all of these impending tax hikes.

And if Speaker Pelosi will allow up-or-down votes on these priorities this month, we can show the American people we’re listening and ready to put their best interests – those of our constituents – the people we work for – first.  Thank you for your time.      ####

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Photos: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters (Obama at a Las Vegas fundraiser for Harry Reid, July 2010); Associated Press; Walden's office.

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