Next Steps for the DISCLOSE Act
The New York Times editorializes today about the failure of the DISCLOSE Act, chastising Republicans for seeking “the right to poison the political atmosphere without being held accountable for their speech.” That said, the Times also noted that the bill’s supporters didn’t help their cause by tacking on a number of provisions that went beyond the purported goal of disclosure:
In a bill that was supposed to be about disclosure, there was no need to prohibit independent expenditures by some government contractors, or recipients of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, or oil drillers. The House inserted an especially distasteful provision that exempted the National Rifle Association from disclosure requirements.
There may very well be good reasons why some government contractors or recipients of TARP funds should be prohibited from making independent political expenditures — recipients of government money might be encouraged to spend it in political ways to influence the continuation of that gravy train. (When it comes to exempting large organizations like the NRA from disclosure, I can’t think of any good reasons.)
The Times is right, however, in pointing out that these measures gave Republicans additional excuses to vote against cloture. It will be interesting to see whether Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) take the Times’ advice and introduce a paired down version of the bill in September, or whether they introduce the same measure and dare Republicans to keep opposing it.