George Will: The AFL-CIO is Just Like the Chamber of Commerce with Representing Foreign Entities
George Will can never resist taking a shot at unions at every opportunity and this weekend's panel segment on This Week was no exception. While defending the Chamber of Commerce and their donations from foreign companies, Will compares that to international unions collecting membership fees from workers overseas.
Yeah, that's exactly the same George. Those unions that are representing workers in other countries like Canada aren't pushing to outsource American jobs. And as Greg Sargent at The Plum Line pointed out, "unions disclose far more about their funding than other political groups do."
Sadly ABC has kept Will as part of their regular Sunday lineup. I was hoping once Christiane Armanpour took over as host we'd see a little less of him.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's interesting, because we're reading and we're seeing that, in fact, a lot of these new candidates who are unknown -- I mean, we don't really know about them, they haven't been part of the political system -- and they're not doing a whole lot of traditional retail politics. People like Christine O'Donnell, it's said, is not seen much on the campaign trail. But the question really is, they apparently don't really need it, because the modern way of money and campaign finances and things coming in by Internet are -- seems to be replacing that need.
KRUGMAN: Well, we have to be a little bit careful here. There is money coming in through the Internet. That certainly played a role in some of these primary upsets. But if we're looking about the general election, we're looking at huge amounts of money being poured in from the usual suspects, from the Koch brothers, from the -- you know, there's probably going to be more corporate money -- I'm sure there'll be much more corporate money in this election than in any midterm election before in U.S. history. So we can talk about all the grassroots stuff, but when it comes to the actual election that's being held in November, this is not going to be the little guy getting into politics. This is going to be the big guys, the billionaires.
SMILEY: If I can augment that right quick, it's not just that we -- that many of us are concerned about the obscene amounts of money in -- in our politics, and so many us are still disappointed by that Supreme Court decision that allows corporations basically to own our politics. But now we learn over the last week that we have these anonymous donors, so there are people giving money, and we don't know where the money is coming from. That makes the situation even worse.
AMANPOUR: Well, I actually wanted to go to that, and to that point. Let's play what President Obama said about that issue on the campaign trail this week, and we'll discuss that afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won't tell you where the money from their ads come from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: George, I saw your head just about hit the table in frustration...
WILL: Well, he won't -- he won't tell us who he's talking about. He's talking about the Chamber of Commerce, which does indeed receive dues from foreign entities that are associated with American business, just as the AFL-CIO receives dues from foreign entities associated with it. And -- and the shock and awe that we're supposed to feel from this is somewhat selective.
AMANPOUR: So is it much ado about nothing?
KRUGMAN: No, except it -- things haven't changed as much as -- as the story suggests. We had the Chamber of Commerce, which draws in an enormous amount of money from multinational corporations. Some of those multinational corporations have headquarters in the United States; some of them have headquarters in other countries. It hasn't mattered. It's the -- the fact that some of them have headquarters abroad is not the important point. The point is that, actually, this is a huge amount of money from people who don't have that much of a stake in the things that American voters care about.
AMANPOUR: Well, the thing is, why is such a huge, big deal being made out of it? Because, obviously, it's been in the press a lot this week, and there have been articles that have come up and checked it, and basically saying that it is coming from -- from all sides, and there's no real evidence that this is coming -- you know, nefarious...
WILL: The question is, why is a huge deal being made of it? Because in 2008, the so-called independent groups outspent Republicans three to one. A big deal is being made of it now because Republicans are outspending...
SMILEY: I think, George, respectively, a big deal is being made and a big deal ought to be made of it, because the American people have a right to know where this money is coming from, who's financing these campaigns. And the reality is this, Christiane: Nobody in this town, politically that is, has any vested interest in fixing this system. Our campaign finance system is broken. We've made a mockery of Feingold-McCain. And in an election that is this important, people have a right to know where this money is coming from, and nobody in this town wants to fix it. I don't mean, George, just Republicans. President Obama himself (inaudible) said, as we all recall, he would take the matching funds. When he realized he could outraise that, raise more money, they even did a 180 on their commitment. We need to fix this problem.
WILL: You referred to this as money going into campaigns. It's not going into campaigns. That has been and remains illegal. This is going into independent expenditure for issue advertising.
KRUGMAN: ... actually irrelevant.