What. I’ve. Been. Saying.

July 30th, 2009at 07:27am Posted by Eli

I’m pleasantly surprised that such a bill has even been drafted:

What with Congress taking up high-stakes issues such as health care reform, bank re-regulation and a new energy policy, the case for public financing of congressional elections has never been so obvious.

It takes a lot of money to run a modern Senate or House campaign, and lawmakers now have to compromise themselves by personally pleading for contributions from big-money interests. Also, the massive amount of time members must devote to fundraising makes them less effective.

One way to get cleaner elections and better government is for Congress to adopt a Connecticut-style reform being pushed by Democratic U.S. Rep. John B. Larson of East Hartford and Rep. Walter Jones Jr., Republican of North Carolina. Senate sponsors are Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

A hearing on the “Fair Elections Now Act” will be held by the House Administration Committee today. We heartily support Mr. Larson’s initiative.

The bill would create a voluntary program and would work like this: Participating candidates for the House and Senate would have to raise a large number of contributions, not to exceed $100 each, in order to qualify for public funding. Qualified House candidates would receive $900,000 in Fair Elections funding split 40 percent for the primary and 60 percent for the general election. Qualified Senate candidates would receive $1.25 million plus another $250,000 per congressional district in their states to take into account population differences. That funding, too, would be split 40-60. Qualified candidates would also be eligible to receive additional public funds if they continued to raise small donations from their home states.

The constant money chase, and corporations’ ability to pony up millions of dollars in campaign donations without batting an eye, has made our government completely corrupt.  Just look at the impact the telecom industry had on retroactive immunity for warrantless wiretapping, the impact the financial industry had on the bailout, the impact the energy industry had on the cap-and-trade bill, and the impact the insurance industry is having on healthcare reform.  The public good has been pretty obvious in each case, and it’s been overridden to favor corporations over citizens or even the rule of law.

This bill is exactly what we need, but I see two problems:

1) I don’t see any mention of presidential campaigns.  An independent Congress is great, but I don’t want a corporate-owned president.  We’ve had pro-corporate presidents since at least 1981, and yes, I’m including Obama.

2) I still don’t see how we’re going to get a majority of incumbents to vote for a system that favors incumbents.  The only possible motivations are overwhelming public demand, which I don’t see, and fatigue at having to constantly ask for money, which could be a real factor.  But when it comes down to it, I think most congresscritters are willing to do just about anything to hold on to their power and prestige.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics

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