So much has been made of Mitt Romney’s so-called gaffe calling corporations “people.”
Yes, it's a rather funny and off-putting soundbite that we love to play over and over again in the media. But technically, his statement is every bit true.
Of course corporations are not humans in the flesh and blood. But the government indeed recognizes them as “persons,” that is, entities that must assume the same tax liabilities and have the same rights as any citizen.
Why is the designation of corporations as people so significant right now? Well, it is this very reason the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that corporations and unions, being "people," have the right to make unlimited donations to political campaigns, as long as those donations were not given directly to candidates, but instead through an independent political action committee (PAC).
PACs have been around since 1947. But prior to this ruling, PACs were highly regulated and could only donate a maximum of $5,000 to a campaign. But now, since corporations and unions technically are considered “people” the Supreme Court decided, “people” should be able to donate as much as they want.
Since that ruling, these newly empowered PACs -- or independent expenditures committees -- are raising and spending unlimited amounts of money for or against political candidates.
And so now… look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane. It’s the Super PAC!!!
The birth of the Super PAC has changed how political campaigns are funded. Now, the multi million-dollar donations of corporations and the uber wealthy can resuscitate and even administer life support to their candidates of choice well past that candidate’s true shelf life (and even if they’re brain dead).
This upcoming 2012 presidential election is historic because it is the first federal election conducted since the establishment of Super PACs. President Barack Obama, he too will most certainly benefit from the wild campaign donations and spending of the testosterone-boosted Super PACs.
Was this a good decision by the Supreme Court to open the door for unlimited campaign spending? Does this ruling give rich donors and corporations too much involvement and leverage in the political process? Or it simply a strict interpretation of a law that allows people in groups to express their First Amendment right to freedom of speech?
Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.