We’re not saying you can’t run those ads, but… you can’t run those ads

Remarks by President Obama on the DISCLOSE Act:

So the House has already passed a bipartisan bill that would change all this before the next election.  The DISCLOSE Act would simply require corporate political advertisers to reveal who’s funding their activities.  So when special interests take to the airwaves, whoever is running and funding the ad would have to appear in the advertisement and claim responsibility for it -– like a company’s CEO or the organization’s biggest contributor.  And foreign-controlled corporations and entities would be restricted from spending money to influence American elections — just as they were in the past.

Now, you’d think that making these reforms would be a matter of common sense, particularly since they primarily involve just making sure that folks who are financing these ads are disclosed so that the American people can make up their own minds.  Nobody is saying you can’t run the ads — just make sure that people know who in fact is behind financing these ads.

“Nobody is saying you can’t run the ads”?

What about the part of the bill that prohibits political ads that are sponsored by companies with foreign ownership exceeding 20% or companies that have government contracts? How is that group not being disenfranchised? I understand there’s a lot of anti-corporation stigma in America, but freedom of speech extends to everyone. Including those who own companies that are partially foreign-owned, or accept government contracts.

Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine adds:

If the DISCLOSE Act is all about transparency and has nothing to do with discouraging speech, why did its chief Senate sponsor, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), say “the deterrent effect should not be underestimated”? Why did Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) say he hoped the bill “chills out…all sides” and “keep[s] all outside entities out”? Furthermore, if Obama really believes “the American people can make up their own minds,” why does he object so vehemently to Citizens United v. FEC, which lifted restrictions on attempts to persuade them?

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