Monday, April 06, 2009

Congress Considers Regressive Campaign Finance Reform

Generally when a legislative body considers reform of some sort, the intent is to help society progress in some fashion. However, that is not the case with the latest bill that addresses the tenuous issue of campaign finance. The battle over money in politics has gone on for decades, but the current Congress (particularly those that wrote these bills) is trying to hoodwink the public into thinking something is being done when the "big donor" and "special interest" money is merely being diverted. Dan Jacoby dug through the language of the legislation and found what was being done.

From The Albany Project:

Looking at the House bill, the key sentence is found on in Section 513, on page 17. (House bill text available at the GPO website.) It reads, "For purposes of this subsection, a payment made by a political party in coordination with a participating candidate shall not be treated as a contribution to or as an expenditure made by the participating candidate." In other words, political parties, and their various committees, can continue to raise and spend all the money they can get their greedy hands on.

Under this bill, it becomes obvious to anyone who has been involved in campaign fundraising that instead of a candidate trying to raise $4,600 directly, the candidate will ask for $100 for his or her campaign, and have the other $4,500 donated to the candidate's political party committee. The money won't disappear; it will merely shift from a candidate's campaign committee to the party's campaign committee.

Meanwhile, in a complete waste of taxpayer money, the government will be dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns to replace money that will still be raised and spent on campaigns and elsewhere.

This all means that everything bad about money and politics will remain the same, with the addition of federal money to back it up. The critics get plenty of ammunition to shut this flawed bill down and allows for another year, or two or more to go by with no real solution to our campaign finance problem. Meanwhile, there is a blueprint to go by that works, but the authors of this bill think they can trick us.