It’s A Trap!!!

March 22nd, 2007at 11:29am Posted by Eli

This sounds good, but consider who we’re talking about here…

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday joined a top Senate Democrat to call for the creation of a multibillion-dollar public financing program for congressional races.

Mr. Specter, R-Pa., made the announcement one day after confirming that he already has started preparing to run for a sixth term in 2010, citing the exploding costs of modern campaigns and the need to raise tens of millions of dollars to be competitive.

“That time ought to be spent on our official duties,” he said yesterday, standing alongside Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Mr. Durbin’s office estimates that the average cost for the most competitive Senate races in 2006 was $34 million per campaign, double what it was four years before. To keep up, candidates often turn to interest groups for money.

(…)

“People who say the public shouldn’t pay for elections are missing the point. We already pay for elections,” Mr. Durbin said. “We pay when special interests are literally allowed to write their own bills.”

The public financing system would provide about $2.8 billion nationwide for each two-year congressional cycle. It would be voluntary.

(…)

Some of that money would go to vouchers for television air time, the largest cost for most campaigns.

Mr. Durbin said he expected resistance from both the television industry and many colleagues, who may be reluctant to give up their fund-raising advantages as incumbents. He said he would try to address their concerns.

“This really allows a senator to be a senator and spend less time on the road raising money,” he said of his bill.

(…)

Nick Nyhart , president of the nonpartisan group Public Campaign, praised the proposed legislation, calling it a “historic opportunity for every elected official in Congress to say ‘no’ to the politics of big checks and the endless money chase and ‘yes’ to putting voters first.”

I cannot understate how hugely important this would be, for all of the reasons cited in the story. Allowing de facto corporate sponsorship in our electoral system has crippled representative democracy by allowing wealth to usurp votes as the source of political power.

It might not affect Republican politicians much, as corporations and wealthy individuals are their natural constituents, but it might allow the Democrats to finally cut ties with the pro-corporate DLC and establish themselves as a more progressive, people-powered alternative.

Which is why I can’t believe that a two-faced toad like Specter would have anything to do with it. Either he calculates that it has no chance of passing, much less overcoming a filibuster or veto (and I think it’s going to face bipartisan resistance) and wants to burnish his bogus moderate credentials, or else the Republicans plan to use it as a velvet straitjacket on Democratic campaign spending (i.e., Democrats forego their own fundraising to opt in, and it turns out to be perpetually underfunded or slow to disburse, and the media vouchers are only valid between 2AM and 4AM…).

If Specter’s genuinely on board and can swing some Republican votes, good for him, that makes him 2-for-his-career (stem cells being the other, and probably only because he had cancer), but I have three words of advice for Durbin: WATCH. YOUR. BACK.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Politics,Specter,Wankers


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