FROM David Keating
'Dark Money' in the 2012 Presidential Campaign With billions of dollars flowing more freely than ever before into the nation's political process, has the US reached the point where money is all that matters when it comes to elections? The balance of power between big money, much of it anonymous, and the average voter is stretched more tightly than ever before thanks to recent court rulings that have chipped away at campaign finance reform and transparency.
Big Money and Secret Money in the 2012 Campaign It's a game-changing year in the election business. This is the first presidential campaign season operating under new rules about donations, which allow unlimited funds to flow in from corporations, unions and individuals. It's being called "dark" money, because much of it remains anonymous. Throw in all the costs related to this year's elections, both presidential and congressional, and some observers are putting the price tag at between six and twelve billion dollars. Whatever happened to campaign finance reform?
The Sudden Emergence of Super PAC's So called political Super PAC's have been made possible by recent decisions of the US Supreme Court. They have names like " Restore Our Future ," " Winning Our Future " and " Make Us Great Again ." The latest thing in political finance, these massive war chests supposedly are independent of candidates. But their real purpose is to support particular candidates like Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry . Based on this year's campaign so far, how are they changing the political process?
The Sudden Emergence of Super PAC's Super PAC's are the latest thing in political finance. These massive financial war chests allowed by recent Supreme Court decisions are spending more than the candidates -- $26 million so far -- without disclosing their sources. With names like " Restore Our Future ," " Winning Our Future " and " Make Us Great Again ," their real purpose is to support particular candidates like Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry . Based on this year's campaign records, what's been their impact on election results so far?
Where Are the New Jobs? On this Labor Day, with unemployment seemingly stuck at 9 percent, all eyes are on Washington, which the Gallop Poll finds more confident about the economy than the rest of America. Last month, the economy created no new jobs at all , and 14 million people are out of work. The unemployed don't stand in lines anymore. They're an invisible army, except on the Internet, which doesn't have the same impact. Democrats and Republicans don't agree on the best way to create more jobs. It's more government spending versus budget cuts and deregulation, and it's unclear if the President will try to change that paradigm in his speech to the joint session on Thursday. ( KCRW will broadcast the speech live at 4pm .) We hear about long-term solutions, ask about the short term and hear a voice for the unemployed.
Money and Influence on Capitol Hill Two court rulings mean that corporations, unions and other special interests can now spend unlimited amounts of money for and against candidates for the Senate and Congress. If they organize as non-profits, donors don’t have to reveal their names.
Money and Influence on Capitol Hill Supreme Court decisions have unleashed a tide of corporate and special-interest spending that is setting records for mid-term election campaigns. Conservatives and liberals are both using new rules to raise buckets of money, but Republicans are getting three times more than Democrats are. For the most part, it's perfectly legal, but what's the message about the integrity of the Senate and Congress? Are contributions directly related to votes on Capitol Hill? Has the dependence on money eroded public trust in the second branch of government?
Big Money, Secrecy and Control of the Congress For months, the Tea Party movement has dominated political news but, with a few exceptions, its candidates have not done very well. That trend continued yesterday in primary results from Michigan, Missouri and Kansas. The 800-pound gorilla in November's final elections will be unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, legalized by the US Supreme Court's ruling this January in the Citizens United case.
Corporate Campaign Fundraising Goes into Overdrive The Tea Party movement has made political headlines, but the big news in this year's congressional races will be money. In January, the Supreme Court legalized unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, and corporate America is hoping to change control of the Congress. Right now, Democrats have more cash on hand, but corporate support for Republicans will be massive and contributors can remain anonymous. Money and secrecy can be a potent political combination. We talk about their potential impact on November's mid-term elections.
Farm Bill's Distorted Economics and the Quality of Our Food Supply The Farm Bill dates back to the Depression and World War II, and it still reflects the priorities of those bygone days. The result is that $25 billion in subsidies have gone mostly to corporations and wealthy investors, many of whom are paid to grow nothing at all. Small farmers are driven out of business. Today, the House passed a new Farm Bill , worth $286 billion over the next five years, that includes $25 billion in crop subsidies. Yesterday, the House defeated an amendment that would have cut those subsidies and invest the money in conservation, nutrition, rural development and deficit reduction. What happened to promised reforms? To what extent does the Farm Bill determine what food Americans eat?
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?