Reversing Citizens United: Stripping the Roberts 5 of Power Over Elections


The following is the first part in a series that originally appeared on Read the article in its entirety here.

Part I  The Most Effective Solution for the Political and Economic Disenfranchisement of the Many by the Money in Politics

The systematic political disenfranchisement caused by the Supreme Court’s legalization of money in politics has in turn caused — and can be measured by — the extreme and still growing economic inequality in the United States. Both political and economic inequality can be addressed by restoring the traditional boundary demarcating the separation of legislative and judicial powers, thereby excluding the Supreme Court from regulating and judging elections. These are legislative powers assigned to Congress under Art. I, Sections 4 & 5 of the Constitution.

The restoration of this fundamental separation of powers defense against judicial tyranny can be accomplished by legislation authorized, if if not mandated, by the Exceptions Clause (Art III, Sec. 2) of the Constitution.

Too corrupted within the money-in-politics system mandated by the Court to act on its own initiative, Congress must be forced by the People to enact comprehensive legislation to get money out of politics, and to use its existing jurisdiction-stripping power to prevent judicial interference with that legislation.

Having been disenfranchised by money, do citizens have any other rational priority than to restore a government that has the consent of the governed by excluding money from politics?

1. Economic Inequality Arises from Political Inequality

The US ranks as the 41st most unequal country, with a bullet. As the most unequal of any industrial democracy, it is joining the ranks of banana republics. The US has become more unequal than most Americans either want or knew, at least before the Occupy Movement refocused attention on this crucial issue. Even President Obama has started talking about it, which should not be confused with his actually doing anything to effectively fight it.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that:

“the share of total after-tax income received by the 1 percent of  the population in households with the highest income more  than doubled between 1979 and 2007, whereas the share  received by low- and middle-income households declined.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a finding in April 2011 which would not be contested by any credible economist: “longer growth spells are robustly associated with more equality in the income distribution.” As in the 1920’s, it is also true today that concentration of wealth produces speculative bubbles instead of an economy that can sustainably create the jobs necessary to keep up with population growth.

Income inequality suppresses demand, destroys jobs and stagnates growth.  Less equal societies, like the United States, have higher rates of mental and physical illness, anxiety and violence, teenage pregnancies, obesity, drug abuse, imprisonment, and eroding public trust. They tend to consume excessively. This roiling social dysfunction is caused by inequality, not just poverty.  R.Wilkinson and K.Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (2009).

The current trend of job killing inequality began in 1976, the same year that the Supreme Court redefined the corrupting involvement of money in politics as First Amendment speech. Buckley v. Valeo  thus legalized systemic political corruption, the sale of public policy that funnels wealth from 90% to a tiny elite who can pay to play this game.

This growing inequality between the 1% who buy government and everyone else who they stripped of prosperity and power was masked since the 1970’s by a series of one-time compensating factors and bubbles. The transition to two income families is one factor that distorts the CBO’s figures, which is based on household income. Measuring “household” rather than individual income understates the growth of inequality during the 28-year period studied. Reverting to child labor would similarly increase household income while increasing inequality.

Other factors that have masked the growing disparity in incomes since 1976 include longer hours of work, decline of the personal savings rate, growing credit card debt, and finally the housing mortgage ATM bubble which ended in foreclosures and poverty for many when the bubble burst. These accommodations to the underlying fact of stagnant median incomes helped defy economic gravity through 30 years of growing inequality after 1976.

Unemployment (caused by inequality) and asset deflation (caused by credit de-leveraging) as occurred during the Great Depression for the same reasons, and were then addressed with effective New Deal policies, have been addressed this time around by old deal policies — bailouts for the rich and foreclosures for the rest, anti-Keynesian political economics that complains about deficits, rather than deploying them effectively to overcome private sector unemployment. Politicians responsive to the 1% recite the voodoo economics liturgy that even greater inequality — more tax cuts for the rich, and scuttling safety nets for the rest — will somehow cause growth, and new jobs.

The bizarre economics of politicians beholden to the 1% create  tax-free  profits for  the 1% , and increasing inequality for everyone else, as the 1% continues to ratchet up their share of national income and wealth. Corporate profits, casino capitalist commodities bubbles, unemployment, inequality are all on the rise in this great recession.

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