Barack Obama: The power of the US lobbyists is increasing and must be resisted

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One of the reasons I ran for President was because I believed so strongly that the voices of everyday Americans, hard-working 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.

We've been making steady progress. But this week, the US 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 five-to-four 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 cannot think of anything more devastating to the public interest. 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.

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.



From the US President's weekly address to the nation

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