How Can We Get The Government's Money Out Of Politics?

Buried toward the end of President Obama's State of the Union Address a couple of days ago was the usual progressive call to "reduce the influence of money in politics":

I believe we’ve got to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.  And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution, because it’s a problem.     

As with most everything else in this pastiche of vague platitudes, there were no specifics as to what he intends as the "real solution" to the supposed problem.  What would that be Barack?  Repeal the First Amendment?  (Progressive icon Senator Chuck Schumer has taken several runs at repealing the First Amendment in the name of "campaign finance reform" -- see for example here.)

Meanwhile of course Obama omitted any mention of the vast sums that the government itself spends every year to promote itself and its ongoing growth.  In his progressive world view, the government itself is just the neutral a-political experts using their perfect knowledge and expertise to improve the world.  Of course they need to explain how that works to the ignorant rubes!  Does Obama even realize that the government spends far more each year promoting itself and its growth than all the money contributed to political causes by all private citizens, rich and poor?  Without doubt, in Obama's mind, government using the taxpayer trillions to promote yet more government just doesn't count as "money in politics."

The SOTU came just a few weeks after the GAO slapped the Obama EPA for covertly using non-appropriated government funds to support enhancement of its own power via its new "waters of the United States" rules.  Here is a report in The Hill from December 14.  Excerpt:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said a pair of social media campaigns by the EPA in support of its “waters of the United States” rule broke laws that prohibit federal agencies from promoting or lobbying for their own actions. . . .  “We conclude that EPA’s use of Thunderclap constituted covert propaganda, in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition,” GAO wrote.  We also conclude that EPA hyperlinks to the [Natural Resources Defense Council] and Surfrider Foundation webpages provided in the EPA blog post constitute grassroots lobbying, in violation of the grassroots lobbying prohibition.”  The GAO said the EPA also violated the law that prohibits spending government resources that have not been appropriated.    

If you don't remember from when this first came to light last May, EPA used the covert social media lobbying campaign to generate hundreds of thousands of astroturf comments on the proposed regulation.  Those comments were then used by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in Congressional testimony in March in an effort to demonstrate supposedly overwhelming public support for the power-grabbing regulations, and to blunt Congressional criticism.  From a New York Times report on May 18:

“We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far — we are only missing 4,000 — are supportive of this rule,” Ms. McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March. “Let me repeat: 87.1 percent of those one-plus million are supportive of this rule.”

Caught red-handed, EPA's response was exactly what you'd expect:  hey, we were just trying to educate the public as to what was going on!  From The Hill:

“We maintain that using social media to educate the public about our work is an integral part of our mission,” EPA spokeswoman Monica Lee said in the statement.  “We have an obligation to inform all stakeholders about environmental issues and encourage participation in the rulemaking process. We use social media tools just like all organizations to stay connected and inform people across the country about our activities.”   

They have no idea that government self-promotion with taxpayer funds has any relationship at all to "money in politics."  Oh, and don't count on seeing a prosecution any time soon by the Obama Justice Department of those bureaucrats who spent unappropriated funds on illegal self-promotion.  

For a summary of just a few items in the tens of billions of annual government spending that goes to promotion of the growth of the government, see my article "The Main Business Of Government Is Promoting Its Own Growth."  Items covered there include the vast sums spent to encourage sign-ups for Obamacare; the aggressive campaign of the Obama administration to expand the usage of food stamps (SNAP); the Agriculture Department's fraudulent "food insecurity" surveys, cynically designed to promote expansion of DOA "nutrition" programs; the Census Department's fake "poverty" statistics, equally cynically designed to promote more completely ineffectual "anti-poverty" spending and programs; the vast grants by the Federal Reserve to community housing groups, much of which are used for lobbying for more government spending; and on and on and on.  

But hey, we need to "reduce the influence of money in politics."  That way, no one will be able to push back at all against the onslaught of government growth.