Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Obama on the Supreme Court’s Campaign Finance Decision

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Within his State of the Union speech last week, President Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court for a decision he believes will “open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.”  He also said, “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests…”  As he made these remarks, Justice Samuel Alito supposedly mouthed, “That’s not true,” which generated some negative buzz.

What did not seem to generate any buzz, however, was the obvious contradiction at this particular moment of the speech.  Obama criticized a decision made by our nation’s highest court to uphold First Amendment protections in the financing of campaigns when he himself had rejected public financing of his presidential campaign.  According to both NPR and the BBC, among many other news outlets, Obama was the first presidential candidate since Watergate to reject public financing of his campaign and instead relied on the massive influx of private contributions he raised to fund his bid for the presidency.  In response to his move away from public financing, Obama told his supporters that the public financing system is broken and accused his opponents of “gaming the system.”

Regardless of who was “gaming” who during the 2008 election cycle, the obvious fact remains that Obama spoke out against a decision that, had it been made three years ago, would have prevented him from raising more money than any other U.S. President in history.  And, if the public financing system is as broken as he made it seem in 2008, when will he propose legislation to begin fixing it, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign financing?

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Written by Stephanie

February 4, 2010 at 4:15 am

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