Campaign Finance Laws to Take Our Power Back: Update for 2016
Recently, I was listening to a show on NPR talking about all the money needed for Trump and Clinton to run for president. They didn't mention Sanders. There was not one mention of campaign finance laws, the influence of the large donors or how it influences elections and policy decisions.
While there are many changes that need to happen to make the U.S. more democratic, I am focusing on campaign finances.
The time for being pragmatic is over. Here are laws that would end the domination of our government by money, and they feature no loopholes.
1. 100% tax on all national or state-wide political ads but not local buys. So if a presidential of Congressional candidate buys $1 million dollars of advertising in Pennsylvania, they pay $1 million dollar fee that could go to clean elections, paper ballots, and education. That would help fix the money imbalance in campaigns and make the nation more solvent. If politicians and PACs want to buy elections, they should at least have to pay us for the privilege.
2. $10 maximum donation per person, per candidate, per election and NO corporate or PAC donations. No exceptions. If corporations are people, they and all their management will collectively only be able to donate $10.
3. Free air time on the public airwaves (radio and television) for ALL registered candidates in a state. If stations refuse to give candidates the time, pull their license. The air waves are, after all, public. The amount of time might be thirty minutes, and could be used anytime. Again, it doesn’t mean that people will watch or listen; it will give a candidate an opportunity to be seen.
That means Sanders, Kasich, Stein, Johnson or others could be heard and not have to be billionaires or have billionaires pay for their ads to get airtime. Also, it means that airtime would be about popular support to get on the ballot (to qualify), not money.
4. 100 percent tax on the billion dollar lobbying industry that would pay for aides to fact check all lobbyist statements for upcoming congressional votes. A million dollar fine for any Congress member, president, or cabinet member who accepts a “junket”, a free lunch, or a stick of gum from a lobbyist. This fine could not be paid from from campaign money and must come out of the pocket of the legislator or office holder, most who are multi-millionaires.
5. FCC regulations that would provide for fact checking of all advertisements and assess fines if ads are obvious lies. Advertising agencies and candidates would be made culpable for all misleading advertisements.
6. No more revolving door politics. If you want to be in Congress (or the executive branch), you have to sign a contract that would prohibit you from working in any private sector industry that has business in Congress or is regulated directly by our federal government. Private companies make employees sign a non-compete clause, so there is already precedent for this. This will reduce the number of corrupt officials who enter politics only for the money and encourage those that want to serve our nation to run. Congress gets paid well above the median national income, and serving our nation should be an honor, not an investment for future payoffs.
Obviously, the details need to be worked out and I will work for room and board, if called upon, to help write the legislation. Until these or comparable laws pass that bring democracy to the U.S., not just the moneyed elite, a pox on both their houses.