Jim's article sets out a three part proposal for remedying the present system of bipartisan political corruption.
The third part of this proposal is to "remove all political spending and contribution limits" because "attempts to limit private political spending have failed and the First Amendment protects the right of wealthy and well-organized people to speak using as much money as they wish."
This is probably contrary to what many MAYDAY supporters envision for reform.
I think it is time for debate here.
It is time for debate for reasons of policy and pragmatism.
People who believe deeply in the need for reform have differing ideas about the importance of free speech rights, the ways in which free speech needs to be protected, and how reform can be achieved while at the same time protecting free speech rights. Discussion and debate here may contribute to valuable compromising by interested parties for purposes of reaching agreement about reform actions to be tried.
Pragmatically, I believe there are proposals for reform that will never get passed, or will not get passed in the next two to four years. I may be wrong about that, but those who are advocating such proposals should enter into debate and discussion here, with a view to possible outcomes. One possible outcome is that such persons make headway in persuading others that only their preferred reform idea will do the trick. Another possible outcome is that such persons come to the conclusion that their preferred reform will not happen, and they need to settle for second best. Participating in the discussion and debate may help in getting a second best for reform, as opposed to no reform.
There is much to put forth in the debate which I think is needed here.
I will save for later what I think should be put forth in the debate (assuming debate takes place), except, because I have not been able to get any reaction to a particular idea I have put out, I will try again here.
Can we employ our immense data capture technology to battle corruption?
In particular, can we make Congressional offices, and the conduct of Congressional business, much more transparent by capturing in electronic form everything that transpires in which Congressional offices and Congressional staff participate? This would include office meetings, out of office meetings, telephone conversations, and email and other social media use by Congressional offices and staff. All the captured data would be put on the Internet and searchable.
Would that help in battling the corruption?
I hope you think debate is needed here, as do I, and you will try to contribute to it happening.
‘A rare bipartisan success” crowed the Wall Street Journal on passage of the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill, supported by House and Senate leaders John Boehner and Harry Reid, President Obama and the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, other than Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
The bipartisan success is that Congress was once again able to duck its core obligation to craft a fiscally sustainable budget, adding another several hundred billion dollars to the nation’s credit card. Another bipartisan success is the gargantuan incumbent protection amendment snuck into the 1,603-page bill just hours before the House voted on the bill without reading it.
The amendment protects incumbents because a single donor and spouse can now give up to $3.1 million over each two-year election cycle to the national political party committees. The two parties and the entrenched incumbents they nearly always protect will now have even bigger war chests to fend off challengers. A small number of big-money donors with their usually narrow, self-serving agendas have now gained hammerlock control over our already bought and paid-for Congress.
Apologists claim that the mega-donor incumbent protection amendment is needed to offset the burgeoning mega-donor super PACs, ostensibly not controlled by the two parties. Having lost my primary against party-backed Scott Brown, I can testify with certainty that most super PAC money hews to the preferences of party leaders in the House and Senate.
Here’s a juicy detail about the amendment for those who think Congress and the special interests feeding at the public trough have in any way been reformed by the 2014 elections. The amendment was drafted at the request of Reid by Marc Elias, the same Perkins Coie attorney who successfully argued for the super PAC loophole before the Federal Election Commission. And the amendment specifically permits mega-donor contributions for any type of party legal work, for which Perkins Coie has collected more than $40 million since 2000.
There is an even darker side to the ever-more-corrupt relationship between favor-seeking donors and cash-hungry parties and their incumbents. The mega-donor-incumbent (M-I) complex has made Washington unresponsive to the needs and wishes of the American people.
It is well established that industrial monopolies suppress competition, consumer choice and product innovation, and stifle economic growth and material progress.
With passage of the cromnibus incumbent protection amendment, the M-I complex is doing the same to Washington politics. The monopolization of campaign money by the two parties and their aligned super PACs has made it more difficult for insurgent, challenger and non-establishment candidates to communicate with voters. The media tends to ignore candidates unable to win the mega-donor “money primary.” This is how the M-I complex suppresses debate about disfavored and uncomfortable issues and positions. So, voters hear little about the hard choices needed to balance the budget, about regulatory capture of fiscal and monetary policy by Wall Street, or about national security alternatives to endless war.
To revive healthy political debate, bring choice back to voters and address our nation’s challenges before they bury us, here is a three-part alternative to the present system of corruption.
∎ Enact a public elections finance system for candidates voluntarily opting out of the current corrupted money system. Each two years, every voter is given a $50 tax rebate voucher assignable to and spendable only by in-district candidates for Congress or president. As shown in Maine, which has a state-level public elections finance system, candidates and elected officials preferring to focus on all of their constituents have the financial incentive to do so.
∎ Require searchable, real-time online reporting of all contributions to any candidate or organization engaging in campaigning for or against candidates, legislation or regulatory activity. While disclosure can suppress paid speech, there is a stronger and offsetting public interest in knowing about real or perceivable conflicts of interest involving public money or the public trust.
∎ Remove all political spending and contribution limits. Attempts to limit private political spending have failed and the First Amendment protects the right of wealthy and well-organized people to speak using as much money as they wish.
(Jim Rubens is a businessman from Hanover and a 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.)