This week’s Viewpoint letters from our readers
Reader supports ‘United to Amend’
Do you know what Super PACs are? They are running our country, so it behooves all of us to know. In essence, a Super PAC is an easily-formed entity that can accept unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, organizations and individuals and then spend unlimited amounts of money advocating either for or against candidates for office. In contrast, each of us individually is restricted to $2,700 per election ($2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election for a total of $5,400) for each candidate we support. It is readily apparent that wealthy corporations, unions, and people hold all the cards, as the candidate subsequently feels beholden to pay back these favors. What’s more, the bills brought before Congress are often written by lobbyists for the corporations, etc. It works this way for both Republicans and Democrats. This is a non-partisan issue.
When and how did this happen? When? Quite recently, in fact. How? In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission) that corporations and unions are “people” and as such can be granted the same rights of free speech. In the same case, it was ruled that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups for political campaigns, maintaining it is their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. Two months later in SpeechNow v. FEC it was ruled that money is speech. The concept of a super PAC, which doesn’t contribute directly to a candidate but advocates independently and is therefore not constrained by regulations regarding maximum contribution limits, came about at this time. About $1 billion was spent each by President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, with $7 billion spent on all candidates in the 2012 election cycle. In 2016, Hillary Clinton also spent about $1 billion. President Trump’s expenses were hard to calculate but it is estimated he received $5 billion in “free” coverage from networks.
To put things in perspective, all this money could fix the Flint water problem many times over, or give all public teachers in the country a $2,000 per year raise. Many democratic countries in the world (the United Kingdom and Canada, for instance) have limits on the amount that can be spent on campaigns, as well as on the amount of time before elections that campaigning may begin.
Laws can be changed and court rulings overturned, and we desperately need a Constitutional Amendment clarifying what constitutes a human and making it plain that money is not speech. United to Amend is a worthy non-partisan organization that has begun these endeavors. Stay tuned! Get educated! Get involved!
Judith Pagano, Rhinelander
Next week is ‘Random Act of Kindness Week’
I read a quote a few weeks ago and it was, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” It is a wonderful fact of life and human nature that we are designed to get pleasure from giving to others. If you see that while we’re all different, our basic needs are the same – we all want love, safety and understanding – then it’s easy to be kind and it costs nothing.
Jan Leschke, Rhinelander
Swearingen, Tiffany thank attendees
Recently we held two listening sessions in the district to hear what issues and concerns are most pressing to the people in our community. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who braved the cold to attend. We were very encouraged by the turnout.
Our democracy is strongest when we have an active citizenry, and we had a respectful, constructive and thoughtful dialogue on issues ranging from broadband expansion to road funding. Wisconsin has made tremendous progress in the past eight years, but we know there is still work to do. With the 2019-20 Legislative Session now underway, we will continue to make sure that the issues affecting the Northwoods are prioritized in Madison.
If you ever have any questions or concerns relating to state government, please feel free to contact our offices. Our staff will be more than happy to assist you.
Rep. Rob Swearingen, Rep.Swearingen@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Tom Tiffany, Sen.Tiffany@legis.wisconsin.gov