Strictly a "lets talk about it" opinion topic. No turf to defend, no deep background needed.
Everybody invited. The old guard and regular participants of this Politics and Social Issues forum are great, but it appears our ranks are thinning.
We need some new blood in these discussions - so here is an easy one.
Public Financing of Election Campaigns
In their book Take It Back, Democrat strategists James Carville and Paul Begala discuss a proposal for public election campaign financing.
Now, what follows is just fodder for discussion of the topic, not facts or specifics to prove or disprove.
By their example, and their particular slant, they say the 2005 energy Bill cost the public $80.8 billion in corporate and big business give-aways, subsidies, loopholes, and other "favors."
By contrast they say their campaign reform plan involving public financing would make all public campaign donations, (ie. lobbyest, special interests, etc.), illegal - and would only cost the public about $800 million. 1% of the $80.8 billion the current system costs the public.
The bare bones are that:
direct campaign donations would be illegal
They could be made - but they would pass through the FEB, (Federal Election Board) which would then write the check to the candidate - AND - a matching check to the opponent
Individual donations to PACs and the party would still be allowed - but they would be electronically processed and posted for public view - and opponents would once again get matching funds from the FEB
Once elected to office - no public official would be allowed to accept any kind of gift or favor. No trips, no lunches, no nothing.
etc. etc. etc.
I will add more details later, but for a starter, the question is...
If a realistic and workable reform bill were possible - do you think public financing of election campaigns is a good idea?
What say you?
Honestly once the words Federal Election Board come into play - you've already lost me. I believe we need less government control, not more. Not to mention, our current federal committees, boards, departments have proven to be pretty corrupt and extremely subject to political games. Not very above board. I could see this new creation having a lot of potential for abuse.
If I want to support a certain candidate, why would I want matching funds going to his opponent? How is that even fair? One could do all the fund raising work - while one sits back and collects checks without breaking a sweat.
I'm all for limiting gifts, etc once a candidate is elected - I just think this is more easily done by removing earmarks. Let each bill stand on its own merit. Not that a bill could not include related items - just not some farm bill connected to food stamps, for example.
Hope at least some of that made sense. It's late here.
....I believe we need less government control, not more.
This is a great catch phrase. It speaks to freedom from whatever system or policy one is in opposition to. Unfortunately unregulated freedom opens up a can of worms that puts us back to the 1800"s where if you wore a gun you got the last word in on freedom. If not the federal government who could oversee such a system? Private monitoring of it would be subject to who was in control of the purse. I think the phrase is boundless when it comes to business and individual freedoms but when applied to a government service it has to be regulated by the government.
....If I want to support a certain candidate, why would I want matching funds going to his opponent?
Get out a campaign for him if you like the guy in office. The law would be for those that want an active role in getting their candidate elected and not for buying a piece of the pie and sitting back to let the system do what it wants. There are two sides to an argument and unfortunately with enough money any candidate can silence the other with advertising and slur tactics if he has enough.
....I'm all for limiting gifts, etc once a candidate is elected - I just think this is more easily done by removing earmarks. Let each bill stand on its own merit. Not that a bill could not include related items - just not some farm bill connected to food stamps, for example.
I am 110% behind this idea.
Yes it was late and I didn't explain that very well. Certainly we need some government regulations - I just don't think we need yet another government department or board to be abused. The government doesn't have a very good track record of having earned any of our trust right now. IRS, HHS, NSA - all working outside the Constitution and for personal political reasons. This board would be so easily abused for such reasons.
I'm sorry - but I don't feel the government has any right, outside of taxes (and that's another discussion altogether ) to tell me how to spend my money. If I choose to give to this candidate or that one - that is MY choice. It would be akin to saying we set up a charity pool and everyone gets a piece of the pot - regardless of where I'd designated my money be sent. That is a person's personal choice - the government is already overstepping the line, IMO, in the area of our personal choices. We don't need one more thing the government decides for us.
Now, I'm all for openness in contributions - I don't understand why they have to be private as far as ones over a certain dollar amount. That would only apply to donations made by groups or businesses though. I don't think a person, no matter how much they give, should have to have their personal information put out there for the masses.
Sassy - You can just about bet that anytime a business gives any candidate money they are looking for something in return. That is just how it works in politics.
I hope you don't mind if I butt in.
One of the foundation blocks of the Carville/Begala plan is the technology and internet available to us today. Their plan calls for absolute transparency of everything. 24 hr. deadlines for recording and publicly posting all monetary donations, and expenditures. A dollar comes in - it is recorded electronically and posted electronically.
The public market already uses this capability - so it would not be a hardship for the government - and individual politicians - to do it.
ps. I still think you need to rethink your opposition to opponents receiving funds matching yours. Your right and desire to contribute is in no way restricted. Are you afraid your candidate would not be strong enough to go head to head on a level playing field?
Seriously, this is not criticism, I think I understand where you are coming from, but give it another look and think about why you object to matching contributions.
....I'm sorry - but I don't feel the government has any right, outside of taxes (and that's another discussion altogether ) to tell me how to spend my money.
Don't get the Government and the law confused. It would be the law as voted by the people and congress that determines the contribution dispersal to the various candidates. The governments role would be more on the oversight and prosecution if need be.
Now if you just want to throw money at the candidate to further your wants and desires that is another thing. If you want the best candidate as decided by our democratic process now that is the intent isn't it?
I think you made a lot more sense than you realize.
To your first paragraph, I agree completely. Between the confusion of the hundreds of acronym bureaus; FED, OBM, GAO, GSI, NSA, CIA, etc. etc. etc., and the real or perceived corruption in many of them - just the thought of another one requires a second martini.
But the Federal Election Board, (FEB), is not another new bureaucracy - it already exist.
As for not wanting an opponent to your candidate receiving matching funds... Think of it this way. Do you want your candidate to win because he has a better message, or because he has a louder megaphone?
Grassroots and individual citizen's efforts are still allowed; organize neighborhoods, spread the word of your candidate, and almost any other way you want to support him/her; except with monetary donations - which you can also still do, but the opponent gets an equal amount too.
With equal public access resources, (money), then there is a higher chance that the better message will win out. Not just the candidate with the loudest megaphone.
Or to put it another way - politicians could no longer outspend an opponent and buy an election.
Your earmarks comment could be looked at another way also. I think earmarks are the best way to legislate funding. No big pools of federal money to be divvied out like lollipops from a candy store. Earmarks make every allotted dollar attributable to specific expenditures.
But, and it is a big but, and it agrees with part of your "earmarks" comment. You are exactly right - no more tacking earmarks on to unrelated, (or even related) bills. No more sneaking earmarks in without even other legislators knowing about it.
This reform idea would require every earmark to be publicly disclosed, (as in available to the press and all Americans), and to be passed as standalone bills - or bundles of similar earmark bills - but either way, they would be publicly visible before being voted on.
Thanks for jumping in SassySue, you gave me the platform to explain more of the concept. I am glad you decided to participate.
I don't want my money supporting a message I am fundamentally against on some things. That is and should remain my choice. I don't need the government to tell me how to donate my money, whether politically or in a charitable fashion.
Truly, I was not aware the board already existed - but just as with the IRS - to give it this power over campaigns is sure to be abused at some point.
Electronically? What does that mean? If anyone donates something their name is all over the internet for anyone to see? Where they live? Even if it is even just a state. I can see that information being used for all sorts of shady endeavors.
I understand where you are coming from on the earmarks, but I disagree that they serve such a purpose. Typically they are gifts to Congressmen for their votes on either the bill the earmark is attached to or some other bill.
I guess the real problem is the short attention span of most Americans these days. The voting record for all the candidates is out there at their fingertips - but they like headlines less than 140 characters and sound bytes better. So they really have no clue what they are voting for or against.
My preference would be we herd all the candidates into a large stadium and let them fight it out with their weapons of choice. The survivors would win the election.
But knowing that will never happen, I would be in favor of the system you describe. Everyone knows that campaign contributions are a legal means of buying a politician. This would eliminate that problem and be cheaper in the long run. The favors and loopholes the campaign contributors currently purchase cost us more in the long haul. Our current system invites corruption.
The new system would level the playing field for the candidates if they were limited to spending only a set amount on their campaign.
Have you ever wondered why anyone would spend a few million of their own bucks to get a job that pays 174K per year? I suspect they know they will get this money back quickly plus a bunch more money.
Bottom line is it is time for a change. We might even get back to the days when candidates are running for office due to a sense of civic duty. They have something to offer and believe they could do something good for the country.
LOL, you are right, the stadium idea probably won't see the light of day.
And a second LOL on your point about their pay...
"...Have you ever wondered why anyone would spend a few million of their own bucks to get a job that pays 174K per year? ."
Because part of Carville and Begala's reform plan jumped their pay to $400K p/year - to further reduce the temptation to look for outside money. Contrary to what I think a lot of folks might think, $174k isn't a lot of money to support a life and residence in Washington, and a life and residence and family back home. Remember the freshmen of the 2012 elections that made the news because they were living in their congressional offices?
Before I started this thread I was staunchly against public campaign financing - but I am wavering. If done right, the public savings could be hundreds of times more than the cost.
Think of it - a legal wall between politicians and lobbyists. Lobbyist could still lobby. Deserving interests could still be brought to legislator's attention - but every contact, conversation, and meeting would be documented, and absolutely nothing of value could pass from lobbyist to politician.
....a legal wall between politicians and lobbyists. Lobbyist could still lobby. Deserving interests could still be brought to legislator's attention - but every contact, conversation, and meeting would be documented, and absolutely nothing of value could pass from lobbyist to politician.
In concept I totally agree with you. The legality is something that could carry some weight. But what do they do now with gifts and money. The $90,000 bribe that was paid to William Jefferson D-Louisiana is an example of the money that is bandied about in Washington. I know this was a case of bribery but the money was exchanged much like a campaign lobbyist could make a donation. A crook is a crook and will always find a way to be a crook. How severe could the penalties be? Maybe a treason charge would carry more weight to cement the idea money on the side is not acceptable?
Another thought would be how the candidate could use his own assets as a contribution to his own election? Would he have to split part of it with his opponent? Otherwise how could you keep the very rich from just buying their own way in?
Good topic! I hope there can be some constructive conversation on it. I promise not to hijack it
No worries, I would be sure to guide you back on the path.
and you are right...
"....I believe we need less government control, not more." is a good catch phrase, but I don't think it has to only be viewed as referring to the 1800s era. I think it is just fine to convey a general perspective.
Further down in your response to SassySue, you showed your prescience to my thinking when you described what individuals would still be allowed to do for their candidate - as you will see in my response to her - before I read your response.
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