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April 14, 2014 / stacieshap

Money in Politics and Income Inequality

imagesRecent Supreme Court decisions, such as Citizens United and McCutchen, raise many concerns about corruption and the influence of money in our political system.  Simultaneously, an ever-widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor presents added reason for concern.

The issues of “money in politics” and “income inequality” are deeply intertwined.  The democratic gubernatorial candidates all support raising the minimum wage, investing in education, and creating quality job opportunities in an effort to reduce the income gap, but will our next governor be able to pass effective legislation in these areas if those with money influences don’t want them passed?

According to the folks at Rootstrikers – a major new study done by political scientists at Princeton concluded that America is now an “oligarchy.”  Reviewing over 20 years of data, they found that the political preferences of regular Americans have “only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant” impact on public policy outcomes.  Meanwhile, the policies supported by the richest 10% of Americans almost always became law.




Don Berwick:   Supports Overturning Citizens United and Publically Funded Elections.  Was willing to sign a “People’s Pledge” (see below)

  •    Quote from Jim Braude and Margery Eagan Interview

“We’re in a country of increasing income disparity. People at the low end [are] really losing out, and there are many more people there than there are at the upper end of the income ladder. It’s become conventional to talk about the ‘well-being of the mainstream’ without being able to speak absolutely clearly about poverty, and poverty alleviation, and the need to be a society that is compassionate, organized around social justice, and equality as a mainstream issue. I think we need leaders who will talk about that.”

Martha Coakley:  Supports Overturning Citizens United but says she’s not sure that there’s a way to publicly fund elections that would work for us in Massachusetts.  Flip Flopped on the “People’s Pledge” (see below)

Steve Grossman:    Supports Overturning Citizens United and Publically Funded Elections.  Flip Flopped on the “People’s Pledge” (see below)

Quote from Article above:

“Bridging the gap between poverty and prosperity is not only a moral obligation. It is an economic imperative,” 

Responses to INCOME INEQUALITY questions at DEBATES:

  • Lexington Debate – Open House w/ Jay Kaufman 1/16/14:  Watch Debate – Related question at 75:30

THE PEOPLE’S PLEDGE:  Last fall Steve Grossman proposed that the democratic candidates for governor sign a “People’s Pledge”, an agreement designed to discourage SuperPACS by placing a financial burden on any campaign that benefits from expenditures made on their behalf.  This attempt was allegedly derailed by Martha Coakley, who at the time was the most likely candidate to end up with a SuperPAC.  Forward to the spring and a re-emersion of the pledge, only this time it’s Martha leading the charge.  And ironically, this time it’s Steve who’s unwilling to sign.  Turns out Steve is the only candidate that actually ended up with a SuperPAC.

The following are the statements made by each candidate about this development:  (updated 4/28/14)





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