I can’t believe people are falling for Mark Kirk making moon eyes at the DISCLOSE Act, as if this portends progress for getting the bill passed in the lame duck session. First of all, Kirk will show up in the lame duck, but he’ll replace Roland Burris – who was already a vote for the DISCLOSE Act. So this represents no progress in raw vote totals, and probably an effective backslide, as Kirk isn’t a firm vote yes, but a possible one. Second, you have to look at this in the context of how Republicans prospered with secret money in the elections last week. Mark Kirk may find corporate spending distasteful, but even if he didn’t benefit from it himself (and actually, he did), he stands to benefit from the overall boost to the numbers in the Republican Party. Kirk gets more attention by being a key vote, and once Republicans get into the majority, he’ll benefit from the ability to help set the agenda. There’s no benefit inside the Republican Party to putting any constraints on secret corporate spending as long as it increases their membership, and that should be enough to outstrip any personal viewpoint on campaign finance. At least, that has borne out so far – before the elections, Susan Collins, OIympia Snowe and Scott Brown wanted nothing to do with the DISCLOSE Act, because the GOP were the beneficiaries.
As for the idea that Lisa Murkowski would be a vote for DISCLOSE because she was a victim of outside spending, first of all, if she gets back to the Senate, she actually wasn’t a victim. Second, the Tea Party Express, which heavily supported Joe Miller, already discloses their spending. So the stripped-down DISCLOSE Act as currently constructed would do nothing for Murkowski’s situation.
Third of all, Republicans would simply have a stronger hand after the lame duck, with more of their members in office, to change or not change the DISCLOSE Act on their terms, rather than live with a bill written by politicians whose job it is to beat Republicans in elections. I don’t see how any of this doesn’t apply now the way it did before the midterms:
When the bill came up for its first Senate vote in July, however, Democrats hoped they could still pressure Republicans with a reputation for past leadership on campaign finance issues — like Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — or newly elected Sen. Scott Brown to cast a vote in favor of the overarching concept of disclosure. But these senators objected to the lack of a committee mark-up or other opportunities to make constructive changes to the bill.
“Unfortunately, the Senate Majority Leader chose to bring forward a bill that doesn’t live up to its title,” Collins wrote in a statement after her first procedural vote against the DISCLOSE Act. “It was drafted by Democrats behind closed doors. No committee hearings were ever held on this legislation; therefore, there never was an opportunity to make any changes to this bill or mark-up in the committee process before we were asked to consider it.”
What’s more, Snowe and Brown are up in 2012, and they probably need this outside money.
If the DISCLOSE Act passes in the lame duck session, I’m a spotted egret.