Thursday, September 2, 2010

Second Thoughts On Campaign Finance Reform

In a previous post, I discussed the benefits of having the federal government match private campaign contributions with public funds:

A much respected colleague of mine pointed out (I paraphrase) in matters of policy, G-d resides in the details. In other words, even if matching campaign funds is good in theory, in reality it would be administered in a way that would be deleterious to the democratic process and benefit those who were already in power. In his own words:

"I am enough of a cynic that our representatives would not pass and our President would not sign into law a bill that could not be manipulated to give some favored group an advantage.

If the Republicans were in power and passed a campaign finance bill they would act in a similar fashion; shifting the laws to make it more difficult to vote them out of power.

If the money to run a campaign came directly from the government, rather than under restrictions imposed via the government, manipulation of who gets money and who doesn’t would be even more blatant."

Such a bill would most likely be thousands of pages and very few, if any members of congress would take the time to read it, as was the case with the bailouts and health care reform. So, even though I do recognize that special interests are exercising undue influence on the democratic process, I believe that having the federal government provide matching funds holds great risk and hence we must look for other solutions. I am hoping that a lively public debate will emerge.

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