Episode 86 – Tea Party Politics, Republican Stances & Term Limits

In this very special episode, the PoliTalk boys bring on Guest Blogger Jeff and Contributing Editor to the Washington Monthly Zachary Roth. PoliTalk takes on the issues that others just skim over. In this episode, Jeff & Glenn get great perspective from Zachary on the Tea Party and its roots. They then delve into the role of the Tea Party in elections and specifically discuss the recent Nevada Republican Senate Candidate Sharron Angle. Guest Blogger Jeff makes a passionate plea for term limits as the only way to get out of the mess we are in. Zachary and Co-host Jeff beg to differ saying that term limits only places the power with non-elected staffers. The show then pivots into Republican stances on unemployment benefits and Wall Street Reform. Finishing up the show, Host Jeff calls an audible on Supreme Court Justice Nominee Elena Kagan.

PoliTalk: Best Friends. Vast Political Experience. Refreshing political discussion…without the fighting…and with a few laughs. Hosted by Glenn Gaudet and Jeff Kimball.

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12 responses to “Episode 86 – Tea Party Politics, Republican Stances & Term Limits

  1. @Jeff:

    You’ve mentioned a number of times that you prefer to completely eliminate campaign donations. I’ve always found this curious given your political leanings, but I also think it would not eliminate the problem that we have.

    Hypothetically speaking:

    So, we have a candidate who raises money by three donors. John McCain would go down the driveway of the CEO of Exxon, the head of the NRA, and the CEO of Merrill Lynch. I think that we know how he would position himself on oil drilling, financial reform, or gun control.

    Barack Obama, meanwhile, gets his money via thousands of $100 contributions from families. He also gets large donations from trial lawyers, environmental activist groups, and several universities. However, given the number of “small donations” he received, the “large donations” amount to a low percentage of his overall.

    Obviously the above is an ideal situation. No other politician has ever managed to get as many “small donations,” and an industry lobby can spread out money over a large number of donors so the limit can legally be surpassed. I just used the Obama example as a foil to the McCain example.

    Personally, I think that the solution is and has to be public funding for all campaigns. This is coming from a conservative. I don’t know what the amounts would be, but i my opinion there should be a set number (inflation adjusted) for all campaigns that affect national politics: house, senate, and president. No other money is allowed to be spent.

    Of course, what happens when Meg Whitman steps onto the stage and has a fortune to spend of his or her own money in excess of the other candidates? And this would obviously violate first amendment rights, given the recent Citizens United decision. Citizens United gives a golden opportunity. We can prevent companies and people from donating excessively to campaigns without violating their first amendment rights. I think that in both cases any further money should fall under the same type of funding: an unlimited amount can be spent, but no coordination is allowed with the main campaign. We can’t prevent that. Ideally we could, but now it is impossible. Perhaps coordination with other such donors would be eliminated as well, to prevent some organization from getting too large and powerful ( the NRA for example).

    So, that is my opinion. I don’t know the mechanics of how this would work, and I’m sure I overlooked something, but there it is. Happy fourth of July!

    • Hey Ross,

      I think I may not have been clear (no surprise). I don’t want to eliminate campaign donations — the money is needed. I want to eliminate what I see as arbitrary limits on donations. What I want is our legislators to focus on legislating. I was working in the Senate when these laws were passed, and at the time an expensive campaign was $1 million. Now campaigns cost $20 million. If you have to raise money in $2,500 or $5,000 increments, well, you can see the math…it means a lot of time is spent raising money, and not much time is spent legislating. We came up with this system because in the past a few fatcats would bankroll a campaign, but there was no transparency, and therefore a lot of corruption. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could raise all the money they needed in one dinner, with total transparency about who gave what, and then go back to their work? Or, as you say, do it through public financing. I’m okay with that, too — puts everyone on the same playing field, but with the state of our economy right now, it’s hard to argue for this.

      Look, you raise a GREAT point about the influence of money in politics. I too want to see its influence as a determining factor in who we have as elected representatives eliminated (i.e. Meg Whitman). Think, though, of a system in which a Meg Whitman can run, but her opponent can only raise money in increments of $2,500. It will take a lot of work, a lot of time off the campaign trail, or someone really rich to counter that.

      But now think of a system where her opponent could make three phone calls, have a bankroll equal to Meg Whitman’s, we all know where that money is coming from so there isn’t an issue about this person being a puppet for some special interest, and then what you have is a real race.

      Thanks for the comment — Jeff

      • I hadn’t thought of it that way before. True, if Meg Whitman decides to spend one billion dollars of her fortune on this race, her opponent would have to get 400000 donors at the $2500 level to match her bankroll. But still, I don’t think that knowing where the huge bankroll is coming from would be enough. And I guess at this point it would be irresponsible to do the “just one more item” thing with the budget and throw in public financing of elections.

        What about this- instead of funding elections publicly or allowing unlimited donations, we put a very low, realistic cap on the amount of money that could be spent on an election. Obama had a bankroll of 750 million dollars in the 2008 election and Mccain had 350 million (http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/mapApp.do?cand_id=P80003338). So say that we capped presidential election expenditures at $200 million. It would be reachable by everybody and, more importantly, reduce the influence of commercials and such in the election. People would have to talk and pay attention to the debates. Third parties would be able to get a decent amount of airtime, relative to the larger parties. It’s still an arbitrary number though, and similar arbitrary numbers would have to be assigned to other national offices.

  2. Hey, I just realized- you know what else the above would do? It might make third parties viable. If these parties’ candidates get the same funding as mainstream candidates, they may actually have a shot. There would probably have to be some conditions in place for what a viable enough candidate to get the funding would be: perhaps a candidate gets funding as a percentage of localities in which they are on the ballot (that is, a presidential candidate who is on the ballot in 48 states gets 96% of the funding that the others get) or something similar.
    Of course, democrats and republicans would strongly oppose that. They never are willing to do anything that may give third party candidates a shot. Even CA prop 14 “Top Two” primary legislation is killing off third parties. If the “top two” in a conservative district are a “tea partier” (whatever that happens to mean) and a Republican, who is likely to get elected? Probably the candidate with the financial backing from a large national organization. Personally, I think that the two party system causes much of today’s political grief.

  3. Jeff-
    It seems like part of the problem is that if contributing to a campaign is considered a right of free speech, how can you ever stop the soft money from coming in (i.e. I am supporting you so I spend the money to run negative ads about your opponent). That seems to be the biggest obstacle to true campaign finance reform (but I’m a newbee to all of this, so maybe I’m missing the point… or a lot of points!) Just wondering you take on that…

    But, my other questions is… if it is freedom of speech to contribute to campaigns, how can you contribute to both sides? That seems to be to be an obvious attempt to influence an elected official. If you give to one side or the other, you can argue that you believe in what they want to do once in office (and not that you just want them to do things for YOU or your company), but when you have companies like Goldman Sachs giving heavily to BOTH sides (they were a top contributor to both the Obama AND the McCain campaign funds) how can you argue its for anything other than to pay for something that will be expected down the road? Again, I may be missing something here as a newbee!

    Thank you so much for your show, I’m trying to become more educated on the political process (much later in life than I’d care to admit!) and your show has helped a lot. It’s so hard to get the straight scoop from the Limbaughs, Hanitys etc. of the world.

    You should consider doing a whole show on the impact that the pundits have on shaping public opinion. From what I’ve seen, it seems that they shape it a lot, and although, much like some politicians, they don’t seem to flat out “lie” very often, but it does seem like they spin any story out there to fit the narrative that they are pushing.

    Thoughts?

    • Hey Brian,

      Soft money is a huge problem, one the Supreme Court just made even bigger through Citizens United. We need transparency on the soft money ads, because sadly many of them are straight out lies, like what was done to Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

      To your question on Goldman Sachs — it is Freedom of Speech to do the ads on behalf of candidates, and it is also a right to give to whoever you want. In Goldman’s case, it’s called hedging your bets, and in the ad world they call it talking out of both sides of your mouth. It’s not pretty, but it works…for them (not necessarily the rest of us).

      Please keep the questions and the comments coming. I do like the idea of doing a show on the punditocracy, most of whom are, well, not the brightest bulbs in the closet.

      Jeff Kimball

  4. Brian,

    Thanks for the comment!

    How did you find out about our show?

    Thanks,

    Glenn

  5. Hi Glenn-
    In looking to educate myself I turned to talk radio, I quickly realized that with pundits you get a very slanted view seen through their prism. I started looking towards podcasts and I found your show via seaching for political podcasts from the Google Listen App on my
    Droid. It seems to be exactly what I was looking for, please keep them coming! 🙂

    -Brian

  6. @Jeff –
    I understand what you’re saying… and I don’t know of a practical way to fix it, but it seems to me if there are two viable candidates with a chance to win an election and you give money to both of them (especially in this case where it’s a LOT of money) that is no longer you expressing free speech, it is you trying to buy an elected official. I sense from your comment about hedging your bets that we agree on this… but my bigger question would be, what are you (or Goldman Sahcs in that case) getting in return for that money.

  7. @Glenn-
    I would love to see discussion about pundits. I think they shape public opinion far more than ANY politician. It’s frustrating because it feels like policy is shaped more by who can put the better spin on the facts rather than the facts themselves.

    And since both sides seem to do it (although the right seems to be better at it… not sure if that an indictment or a feather in their cap). Even the story that got posted on this blog about Palin and Marijuana from the Daily Caller website has misleading spin on it… and belive me I’m NOT a Palin fan by any stretch of the imagination, but when I read the actual quote from her, it was far less damning than the article implied.

    Anyway, my point, I think it would make a great topic… and perhaps even a great running segment to address the spin that some of the pundits are putting on the stories of the day.

    Thanks again for the great shows, I’m looking forward to more!

    -Brian

  8. @Jeff-
    Oh… I should add that I believe this is what is sometimes going on whether you are giving large sums to both sides or just one, but in the case of giving to just one side, it makes it much harder to make an argument that it’s not just expression of free speech.

    Then again, I can be pretty cynical 😉

    -Brian

  9. Hi Brian,

    Great idea. We have been peppering the shows with our take on pundits and politicians, but I like the idea of a show or section of a show dedicated to the pundits.

    Thanks for listening and keep the comments coming!

    Glenn

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