I recently posted an interview I did with Mr. Rob Taylor, Wisconsin Senate Candidate.
I was then accused of favoritism, so that night I sent 5 questions a piece to Ron Johnson and Senator Feingold. Here are the five questions and answer from Senator Feingold. More information can be found at http://russfeingold.org/. I am still patiently awaiting Mr. Johnson’s reply.
1. With the recent Citizens United ruling, how realistic is it to put in reforms to lessen corporate influence of elections?
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United was a tragic mistake, and I hope that over time a changing Court will reconsider the ruling. In the meantime, while we cannot reverse the decision by legislation we should put into place disclosure requirements that will let the American people know exactly who is funding the enormous amount of corporate sponsored political advertising that will undoubtedly result from the decision. That is why I support the DISCLOSE Act and believe Congress must enact it in time for it to take effect for the 2012 elections. The House has already passed that bill, and we are just a few votes short in the Senate.
2. As sponsor or author of the Same Day Registration Act, Democracy Restoration Act and the Caging Prohibition Act, how many co-sponsors do you have? What is the opposition to these bills? Will these bills ever become law? what else can be done to ensure a higher turnout amongst the citizens, not just of Wisconsin but of every state?
There are five cosponsors of the Same Day Registration Act, five of the Democracy Restoration Act, both of which I authored in the Senate, and thirteen of the Caging Prohibition Act, which is sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse. We have a ways to go to pass these measures, all of which are aimed at increasing participation in democracy by making sure that all of our citizens that want to vote have the opportunity to do so. I strongly believe that our country is better off when greater percentages of eligible voters exercise their rights. We can increase participation by breaking down logistical and practical barriers to voting as these bills attempt to do, by assuring voters that their elected officials represent them and not corporate interests as my campaign finance efforts have attempted to do, and by proposing and fighting for constructive and realistic solutions to the problems that voters feel are important, like jobs, the economy, health care, and the environment.
3. The workforce has diminished from about 25% unionization in 1980 to approximately 7% now. Is there still the political will and desire in Congress to pass EFCA? Can we expect to see a vote on this bill in the near future.
I am a cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) because I strongly support the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, health benefits, and improved working conditions. Right now, employers can choose the method by which workers organize and the process is often unfairly stacked against workers who wish to form a union. EFCA tries to correct this imbalance by providing workers the freedom to choose if and how they form a union. The legislation also sets up a process to ensure workers and businesses can reach a first contract and establishes penalties for employers who violate labor laws. Given the many struggles working families are facing right now and the importance of protecting workers’ rights, I hope Congress will address these important issues in the near future.
4. We have seen that the current Senate rules allow the minority party to block all legislation, requiring 60 votes to pass anything. When the filibuster rule was first made, Senators had to actually filibuster. How do you feel about the way the Senate is working now? Would you support the so called nuclear option? Why has Harry Reid not required the Republican members of the Senate to actually stand at the floor and filibuster by talking for hours on end?
Unfortunately, under current Senate rules, there is no realistic way to actually make Senators “stand at the floor and filibuster by talking for hours on end.” I am very concerned about Republican abuse of filibusters, however, and I am open to reasonable proposals to amend Senate rules to try to prevent such abuses in the future. While I look forward to considering these proposals, I have not made a decision on when or how the Senate should consider these reforms. I would also point out that the filibuster was used by Democratic Senators to block several of President Bush’s most extreme judicial nominees and some very bad legislation during the Bush years. We need to carefully consider whether completely eliminating it makes sense for the long term.
5. What current and past elected officials have you looked up to and respected?
I have always been inspired by the titans of Wisconsin’s progressive tradition like Fighting Bob LaFollette, Bill Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. When I was young, I looked up to both John and Bobby Kennedy because of their keen political senses and their sincere desire for a safer and more tolerant society.
Thank You Very Much to Senator Feingold for taking the time to answer these questions for us!