Will the Supreme Court Ruling Help Wall St. Fight Obama?

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The same day Obama decided to formally declare war on Wall Street's biggest corporations, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can spend unlimited sums of money to elect their favorite candidates and defeat their enemies. Bad timing, much?


If Obama passes this big-bank-busting regulation, it will almost certainly be with mostly Democratic votes. And those big banks with blank checks will threaten to sign oodles of cash over to Republican challengers of all the Democrats who voted to destroy them. It's like the popular kid who, after months of deliberation, finally decides to challenge the school bully to a showdown -- only to learn that the bully's mom just married their teacher. If he backs down, it'll be a damning sign of weakness. If he beats up the bully, he's got to expect retribution on the report card.

There are two caveats to my observation. First the Supreme Court decision doesn't invent out of nothing the idea of corporate spending on elections. Companies could already establish and donate to political action committees (PACs), and as Dan argues, this ruling could arguably allow smaller businesses who lacked the resources to establish PACs to get in the game.

Second, the White House could strike back. The Obama administration's response could take several forms, as Marc Ambinder outlines: (1) Pass a law to overrule the Court; (2) Pass a law to make company shareholders approve political spending; (3) Pass a "stand-by-your-ad" requirement, such as "I'm Derek Thompson, the CEO of AtBixChan Technologies, and I approve this message." My sense is that those are listed in increasing order of political likelihood.


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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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