January 25th, 2012 by Vbhotla
Every time I watch the State of the Union address, I always wish I was a more optimistic person. I remember being genuinely excited when President Clinton used the line (not very original) “the state of our union is STRONG” in 1998. I have always believed, whether a Democrat or Republican is speaking, that the State of the Union address should be used to inspire and present the ideas that we should aspire to. Basically, I think the perfect State of the Union should make me want to sing out a certain “Team America” song whose name I can’t print here. Last night, while listening to President Obama, I kinda, sorta felt that way.
And I don’t mean that in a partisan way. Like most of the people now on the outside looking in, I’ve always believed that for President Obama to maximize his potential in office, he needs to be more combative. Even when I disagree, I’d rather he or the Republicans in Congress take a bigger chance; it isn’t like either side’s poll numbers are that great now. At the moment, it feels like I am watching a football game where both sides are so scared of turning the ball over they punt every 1st down.
What’s more sickening is the idea that we need a rebuttal response from the opposition. The idea that it is even needed in the first place just rings of two kids going “No, you’re wrong!” Can’t we put aside partisan bickering for one night and let the President, whichever party they are from, have the limelight? Even when President Obama said something that traditionally is “right of center” he couldn’t catch a break. I really don’t know why you’d even want to respond. It seems like the better political strategy is to just let it go, not seem contrarian, and move on to the next thing. Also, because it airs right after the State, there is no way for them to truly prepare online casino poker to “respond” to whatever the President actually says.
Why do I say that? Because the rebuttal is just another chance to make a mistake when you don’t have to. Michelle Bachmann’s ‘tea party’ response last year was a great example of this. Also, despite popular opinion, it isn’t like it really makes a difference in the polls. The historic “bump” that people believe the State of the Union gives the incumbent (especially during an election year) is minimum, if at all. Gallup did a great break down in 2010. (Already two years ago!)The biggest bump since the ‘70s came from that ’98 Address, though granted it was the first time in most people’s lives they were hearing or remembering the President announcing a balanced budget.
One last thought. Legislatively, it seems like the big issue the President pushes for each State of the Union has just around a 50/50 shot of working out well. Just ask President Bush about Social Security. Even when it does work, like Obama’s health care plan, it can seem like a Pyrrhic victory. I think it is just hopeful thinking that in the Halls of Congress we’d all have a “come to the light” moment where everyone goes “Oooooohhhhhh, that’s what we should be doing! OK”.
While President Kennedy didn’t declare we would end up on the moon in his State of the Union Address (I’m cheating here because it was still a joint session when he did it) that is what I believe the Address should be about. It is supposed to be a night where we come together and say “ok, this is where we are as a country.” Now we can’t even agree what our problems are, much less the solutions. As an American, I want to hear the unbridled and hopeful optimism regardless of the “political lean” of the idea. For me, the State of the Union has always been about defining the impossible: and how we will turn it into possible.
December 21st, 2011 by Vbhotla
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an FEC complaint against GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, alleging that his film company, Gingrich Productions, masked campaign events as film screenings, and that the campaign paid Gingrich $42,000 in funds that should have been directed to the company.
“We based our complaint on ABC News and Washington Post stories about these joint events and they seem to be for a dual purpose, for promoting his candidacy and promoting books,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. “Gingrich Productions is a corporation and this would violate the rule of not white pages reverse phone receiving a corporation’s aid,” said Sloan. “In turn, the campaign was accepting an illegal contribution.”
The campaign responded, saying, “If the FEC considers the complaint, they will find that the rules are being followed and published regulations are being enforced.”
Sloan contends that mailing lists and other services Gingrich received thanks to his connection to the production company and a nonprofit once run by his former spokesman constitute impropriety on his behalf, and that “The FEC needs to investigate this…and get some answers from Gingrich and they should fine him if he’s found to be in violation.”
November 9th, 2011 by Brittany
What is it?
In some cases, it may be appropriate to engage members of the advocacy network in election-related activities. Note, however, the restrictions on election-related activity discussed in Chapter 2. Nonprofits organized under certain IRS “501” designations, in particular, may not engage in partisan election activity, such as endorsing a particular candidate for office. Individual states and localities may also have restrictions of which advocate leaders should be aware.
Why is it useful?
Engaging advocates in election-related activities serves a number of purposes, including:
- Raising the profile of an organization’s issue, both during the campaign and long after
- Offering a new and often invigorating way for advocates to get involved in the policymaking process
- Enhancing an organization’s access and reach in the legislature
When should it be used?
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election every two years and U.S. Senators must stand for election every six. In addition, most states and localities have elections for various state and local offices at least every other year. Some localities have elections every year for both candidates as well as to address ballot questions, such as sales tax or funding initiatives. Any election offers an opportunity to engage advocates, to the extent allowed by law. Advocate leaders should consider, though, which level of government the organization hopes to build relationships with and choose the election cycle for participation carefully.
PAC / Fundraising Efforts
What is it?
As noted in Chapter 1, advocacy efforts should be coordinated in tandem with other government relations activities, include political action committees (PACs). In fact, organizations will generally find a great deal of overlap between the most active and committed members of their advocacy network and the most consistent donors to their political action committees. This section provides a few details on PACs and how they can be successfully integrated into an overall advocacy network plan.
Organizations form Generic Cialis PACs to finance political education and to make contributions toward the election or defeat of candidates. They can contribute up to $5,000 per cycle per election to a candidate’s committee and $15,000 to national political parties. They may receive up to $5,000 from individuals.
Most organizations will establish a connected PAC that can solicit contributions only from members. More information can be found on the FEC site at www.fec.gov. Key materials on this site include:
Political action committees can also be formed at the state level. Rules for establishing state PACs vary from state to state. Organizations should look to their state’s Board of Elections for more information.
Why is it useful?
Overall, political action committees allow organizations to support the election of candidates who support their issues. Some advocate leaders suggest that PAC contributions give advocates and government relations staff better access to policymakers, in that advocates will have the opportunity to attend fundraising events and be seen as supportive of the candidate.
Political action committees can also enhance an organization’s advocacy activities and vice versa. By coordinating existing programs or forming a new PAC to complement an advocacy network, organizations can reduce duplication, reach out in a more focused, targeted manner to politically active network members and possibly reduce overhead and cost.
When should it be used?
Any organization that already has a PAC should look for opportunities to, at a minimum, coordinate and possibly merge activities. Organizations with advocacy networks but no PAC should determine whether a PAC would assist in meeting legislative and policy goals.
For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.
November 4th, 2011 by Vbhotla
The L.A. Times reported last week on a study that suggests that in this post-Citizens United world, companies are regulating their own spending in political campaigns. The study, conducted by the Center for Political Accountability and the University of Pennsylvania’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, evaluated companies based on board oversight of political giving, disclosure practices and company restrictions on political spending.
The study found that “voluntary disclosure of political spending is becoming a mainstream corporate practice, and [a] growing number of companies are putting restrictions on the political use of their money.” According to its research, 57 of the S&P 100 index companies voluntarily disclose their political spending and have adopted board oversight over spending. Just under half, 43, of the companies voluntarily disclose some of their independent spending through associations and nonprofits.
One in six do not allow funds to be spent directly on candidates or political committees. It also found two companies, Colgate-Palmolive and IBM, prohibit spending entirely. Nearly one-third (30) of companies “place some Levitra prohibitions on using corporate funds for political activity.”
“Our findings are striking. They offer hope for increasing corporate political transparency and accountability at a time when everyone expects massive hidden spending to influence elections,” CPA President Bruce Freed said in a statement.
Twenty-four of the companies have explicit statements on their websites letting Super PAC committees know that they will not spend on independent expenditures. The study ranked the top-ten companies based on political transparency:
- Colgate-Palmolive Co.
- Exelon Corp.
- International Business Machines
- Merck & Co. Inc.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Pfizer Inc.
- United Parcel Service Inc.
- Dell Inc.
- Wells Fargo & Co.
- EMC Corp.
In 2003, the Center for Political Accountability started a campaign to urge corporations to voluntarily disclose political spending and exercise greater oversight in this area. “Few, if any, companies disclosed their political spending then,” the report says, going on to note that the results of this study “[reflect] significant progress. [They] also [reflect] troubling gaps that leave many shareholders, and citizens, in the dark.”
November 1st, 2011 by Vbhotla
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has proposed a constitutional amendment to change the campaign finance landscape yet again, by “effectively revers[ing] two landmark Supreme Court decisions — the 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, which said spending money in elections is a form of speech, and the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled it unconstitutional to regulate the money spent to influence elections by corporations and unions.
The amendment would allow Congress and the states to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures, by allowing Congress to regulate the amount of money raised and spent for federal campaigns (including independent expenditures), allowing states to regulate fundraising and spending at in state elections, and opening the door for Congress to pass unspecified campaign finance reform legislation in the future.
“Letting this go unchecked is a threat to our democracy. Campaigns should be about the best ideas, not the biggest checkbooks,” Udall said at a press conference.
Huffington Post reports, “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the proposed amendment, called the Buckley case ‘one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has rendered in the last hundred years’ and described the Citizens United ruling as ‘Buckley on steroids.'”
A reversal of the Citizens United decision has been one of the demands of Occupy Wall Street protesters. “The extent to which money and corporations have taken over the [campaign] process is reflected across our cities in the Occupy movement,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) says. “It is something we have to do something about if we are going to reclaim American democracy as the shining light to other countries that it has always been.” Sen. Whitehouse is also co-sponsoring the amendment.