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Obama in weekly address: Hits Supreme Court campaign finance ruling


President Obama is critical of the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling in his weekly address. Click after video for transcript and a reply from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (a participant in the case).

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (a participant in the case) said about the Supreme Court's ruling on the Citizens United case:

"For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process. With today's monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day. By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers. Our democracy depends upon free speech, not just for some but for all."


Office of the Press Secretary
EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00 AM ET, SATURDAY, January 23, 2010

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Vows to Continue Standing Up to the Special Interests on Behalf of the American People

WASHINGTON - In this week's address, President Barack Obama vowed to continue fighting for the American people to ensure their voices are heard over the special interests and lobbyists in Washington, despite this week's Supreme Court decision to further empower corporations to use their financial clout to directly influence elections.

The audio and video will be available online at at 6:00 am ET, Saturday, January 23, 2010.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
January 23, 2010

One of the reasons I ran for President was because I believed so strongly that the voices of everyday Americans, hardworking folks doing everything they can to stay afloat, just weren't being heard over the powerful voices of the special interests in Washington. And the result was a national agenda too often skewed in favor of those with the power to tilt the tables.

In my first year in office, we pushed back on that power by implementing historic reforms to get rid of the influence of those special interests. On my first day in office, we closed the revolving door between lobbying firms and the government so that no one in my administration would make decisions based on the interests of former or future employers. We barred gifts from federal lobbyists to executive branch officials. We imposed tough restrictions to prevent funds for our recovery from lining the pockets of the well-connected, instead of creating jobs for Americans. And for the first time in history, we have publicly disclosed the names of lobbyists and non-lobbyists alike who visit the White House every day, so that you know what's going on in the White House - the people's house.

We've been making steady progress. But this week, the United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists - and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself. By a 5-4 vote, the Court overturned more than a century of law - including a bipartisan campaign finance law written by Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold that had barred corporations from using their financial clout to directly interfere with elections by running advertisements for or against candidates in the crucial closing weeks.

This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy. It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way - or to punish those who don't. That means that any public servant who has the courage to stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time. Even foreign corporations may now get into the act.

I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.

All of us, regardless of party, should be worried that it will be that much harder to get fair, common-sense financial reforms, or close unwarranted tax loopholes that reward corporations from sheltering their income or shipping American jobs off-shore.

It will make it more difficult to pass commonsense laws to promote energy independence because even foreign entities would be allowed to mix in our elections.

It would give the health insurance industry even more leverage to fend off reforms that would protect patients.

We don't need to give any more voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

And we don't intend to. When this ruling came down, I instructed my administration to get to work immediately with Members of Congress willing to fight for the American people to develop a forceful, bipartisan response to this decision. We have begun that work, and it will be a priority for us until we repair the damage that has been done.

A hundred years ago, one of the great Republican Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, fought to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending. His message rings as true as ever today, in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too often stacked against ordinary Americans. And as long as I'm your President, I'll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you.


Remember when the U.S. Constitution said... "We the People"?

The unjustice Roberts and his band of "we're not political" felons have in one stroke of ignorance allowed NON U.S. CITIZENS to influence and rule our great nation.

The Constitution in their interpretation now means "We the corporations, and maybe if we wish and they follow us, a union or two in order to create a more prosperous profit..."

Many corporations are global/international and will not give a damn or even care about the common U.S. citizen. But thank God, "God We Trust" is still on our currency.

Those greedy selfserving pieces of you all know what can pray to their almighty dollar, but our children cannot pray to God in public schools?

Ralph Nader, the 'democracy advocate', and Stevens, the enlightened liberal justice, are exactly correct in tying this issue to America's founding genius, and enlightenment in choosing democracy over Empire.

It's really a simple choice which we now need to reinforce and expand to all aspect of our lives and society ---- as an anti-Empire 'social democracy'.

The choice in all spheres of life & society such as the key ‘5 or 6’; political, business, religion, social, educational, etc. is merely a choice of democracy/freedom or Empire.

The founding of the United States of America in 'the new world' followed this generalized enlightenment principle by choosing for our "life & society" to select "democracy & freedom" (instead of Empire) in the spheres of political and religious life --- and this choice of democracy & freedom in each sphere also included the protection of our democracy & freedom in the political sphere from our democracy & freedom choice in the sphere of religion (and vise versa).

This founding American choice was a simple and elegant idea of enlightenment for all individuals in a society (large or small) to protect our free choice of democracy & freedom (vs Empire) in all our spheres of life.

So, the only real choice that we now have to re-address, for a second endorsement of America’s founding idea of democracy & freedom, is the simple binary choice of whether we want to live in a society (which is now the whole world) based on democracy & freedom (in all spheres of our lives, and protected from any adverse impacts by other spheres of life) OR whether we want to live in a life and society of Empire ruling every sphere of life and society --- because Empire (like cancer) in any one sphere (particularly the economic) will ineluctably metastasize into and destroy all society and ultimately all our lives --- and remember, you aren't going to be the last Emperor standing!

As Clint Eastwood said, "Well, in all this excitement I don't remember if it was ‘5 or 6’. So, punk, do you want to take that chance?"

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

While I supported Obama in the last Election, I could never do so again based on the past year and his constant "campaigning for office vs. governing." His commentary on the Supreme Court ruling on McCain-Feingold seems silly coming from the President - seems self serving and perhaps worried about 2012 more than anything. Supreme Court did the right thing on First Amendment.

Why did we need this law anyway? Can't the Senate and Congress take a pledge or sign a code of conduct not to take all the lobbyist and corporate money (under the table too)?

Any establishment should be able to run ads to state opinion. Pols just want to control the promises and "trust me" not them....

Very self serving and re-affirms why I would never vote for McCain or Obama again.

" Corporations already have a big advantage over the rest of Americans.
They can hire powerfully connected lobbyist to bend the ears of congressmen to vote this way or that.
Now they will have another tool to drown out the voice of the average citizen.
Unlimited amounts of money to run TV smear campaigns against candidates who try to oppose their power.

I am amazed that individuals would support dismantling a law that has helped give the average man at least helped to level the playing field.

So while we are telling the rest of the world how wonderful democracy is because every citizen can vote, we are moving to allow effectively only the rich and powerful to speak....pretty much how it is in Red China. Everyone gets to vote but the rich and powerful control the message.

If there is anything that makes me wary of the Republicans, this move by the conservative supreme court majority confirms it.

McCain/Feingold didn't go far enough. PAC money still was allowed, and it is accounting for a substantial pile of dough. This was a ruling that was fated to happen. The constitutionality of the law was debated many times before it was finally passed in a watered down version. Thinking out of the box here; how about term limitation, so politicians don't have to worry about amassing a fortune for their endless campaigns. How about limiting candidates to the public match, and allowing not one farthing more? Listening to the two sides debate any issue is like watching a dog chase it's tail. You want screwed up government, keep thinking like partisan drones.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 23, 2010 7:45 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Jan. 23, 24, 2010. was the previous entry in this blog.

Plouffe stepping up White House role in overseeing 2010 contests is the next entry in this blog.

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