Dem Congressman Ted Deutch, the hypocritical enemy of free speech

ted deutchEvery businessman and woman in Florida needs to know what U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch is doing to stifle our free speech.

Yes, he’s at it again, a continuation of his anti-business crusade. He’s pulled out the stops on his campaign to hurt business, and this is no passive effort. It’s an activist attempt to deny corporations and businesses their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

Deutch introduced still-pending legislation in late 2011 to ban corporate contributions in the campaign finance system. His measure would outlaw business contributions at the local, state and federal levels. He says he did it because of “corporate control… of our democracy.” Notice he doesn’t include union contributions as part of the problem? Deutch’s proposal is designed to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that corporations and unions are guaranteed the same freedom of speech rights as individuals, to financially promote the election of one candidate over another.

Now we see Deutch plunging the political knife deeper into the backs of business managers and owners by asking the Palm Beach County Commission to support his push to deny rights to businesses, and to pick a fight with the nation’s highest court.

At first, the County Commission seemed surprised at Deutch’s request, but agreed to consider it. For a moment, it seemed the commission would start to slide down this slippery slope of regulating businesses’ campaign spending. But, to their credit, four commissioners were hesitant to enter the fray, suggesting it was — in the words of Commissioner Taylor — “a little far-reaching” for the commission to take a position on a national issue.

In the end, the commission did the right thing and decided not to support this anti-business proposal.

What thrusts Deutch’s proposal into the realm of hypocrisy is that he blasts corporations for stealing democracy from “the people” while, at the same time, shamelessly engaging in corporate fundraising events to finance his own re-election campaigns. For example, earlier this year, Deutch attended a fundraising breakfast organized by an AT&T officer and telecom lobbyist. The invitation lists the costs for hosts at $2,500 and  guests at $1,000. Confronted by a reporter from Republic Report at the event, Deutch dodged questions.

He is playing the political game of do as I say, not as I do.

For those believing in justice for all, not just “their group,” here’s the way this issue needs to work:

If we conclude that informed voters are a good thing for democracy, campaign spending should be encouraged and not restricted. Limits on campaign spending reduce the total information available to the public about candidates. Public trust is not increased when campaign funding is restricted. As the Cato Institute put it, “Getting more money into campaigns benefits voters.”

Taxing businesses, which can’t vote, is a form of taxation without representation. At the very least, businesses have the right to defend and protect themselves by being able to make political contributions. But the leftists want businesses to come to the political fight with no sword and no shield, only a wallet from which leftists can pluck tax revenue. Well, companies will pay their fair share of business taxes, but we want a voice in the political process. Since my company cannot cast a vote, my form of political speech is a checkbook that allows business-friendly candidates to get their message out to voters.

If you don’t like that, it means you are probably one of those who want to confiscate money from businesses to spend on things that benefit you and your political agenda. The real immorality here is a protection racket — a tyranny of the majority extortion scheme that forces businesses to spend some of their money to protect the rest of it. Now, Ted Deutch wants to take that away.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.

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