Senate Republicans made sure this fall's elections will be drenched in corporate money. By threatening a filibuster, the minority party blocked a Democratic plan to require disclosures of business and labor contributions in campaigns.
The measure was a direct response to a disastrous Supreme Court decision in January that ended a century-old ban on companies dipping into the treasuries to make campaign contributions. Get ready for a high-spending mud fight this fall as business groups exploit the ruling and take advantage of low polling numbers for Democrats.
The proposed law, known as the Disclose Act, passed the House narrowly last month. In the more conservative Senate, it was always an uphill fight, because every major bill needs a 60-vote margin to cut off endless filibuster debate. On this issue, Democrats needed at least one extra vote from the GOP side, which couldn't be found.
The upshot is a political landscape with few restraints on lobbyists and special interests, the very groups Republicans claim to repudiate in insider Washington. The proposal would have obliged major contributors to appear in disclaimers in ads, much the way candidates do in criticizing opponents.
The measure wasn't perfect. Major players ranging from the National Rifle Association to the Sierra Club won exemptions from the disclosure rules.
The Supreme Court ruling, known as the Citizens United case, had galvanized the Obama White House into pushing for the law. But the president's late push for votes fell short. Now the country gets to live with the no-rules results blessed by Republicans.