Characterizing their stalling as "politics at its worst," President Barack Obama says Republicans should quit blocking a bill to limit the amount of money corporations and unions can spend on campaign advertising.
At issue is a Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Citizens United. The court reversed a centurylong trend of limiting the power of big money in politics by saying corporations and unions may spend heavily to influence presidential and congressional elections.
"This is common sense," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. "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.'"
Republicans, seen as mostly benefiting from the ruling, argue that Democrats are only trying to protect themselves with the bill.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has passed legislation to scale back the ruling and require greater disclosure by donors. Senate Republicans have blocked it and it's unlikely that the Senate will act on the measure in time to affect the Nov. 2 elections, when control of the House and Senate is at stake, along with 37 governorships.
Obama said a partisan minority in Congress wants to "ride this wave of unchecked influence all the way to victory" on Nov. 2.
In response, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats are the ones trying to get the upper hand.
McConnell criticized Obama for talking up a "a partisan campaign bill" for the second time in four weeks at a time when Americans are desperate for Washington to focus on creating jobs and growing the economy.
"By focusing on that partisan effort to rig the fall elections rather than the stagnant economy, Democrats are proving once again that the jobs they care about most are their own," said McConnell "It's a transparent effort to help themselves ahead of an election in which they clearly can't run on their record."
Bruce Josten, an executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued that campaign disclosure requirements in the proposed legislation would be overly burdensome and as a result, restrict the political speech of business groups and most other advocacy organizations including citizen groups. In contrast, the Supreme Court ruling "protects the First Amendment rights of organizations across the political spectrum and is a positive for the political process and free enterprise," he said.
Republicans devoted their weekly address to promoting a GOP plan to freeze government spending and stop tax hikes scheduled to take effect next year unless Congress intervenes.
"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," said
Republicans devoted their weekly address to promoting a Republican plan to freeze government spending and stop tax hikes scheduled to take effect next year unless Congress intervenes.
"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," said Republican Rep. Greg Walden.