I understand the concept of limited government, and in many cases agree. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Since, Citizens United (PAC) v. FEC in ’10 allowing Corp.’s the same rights as individuals in donating, election spending is up 460%. This was considered a “win” for freedom of Speech and limited government conservative republicans. Unfortunately, there are unintended consequences for this freedom. We can now voice our free speech by spending unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the government officials of our liking. Great thing huh? Constitutionalists feel that this is adhering closely to our forefathers intentions, but this is absolutely not the case.
Our forefathers saw this coming and tried to write into the constitution checks and balances to combat this. In early United States history they saw it could be a problem for foreign ambassadors accepting gifts from foreign countries: “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Bottom line, they were worried that these men would become corrupted. They couldn’t foresee the possibility of Super PAC’s being established, or that contributions from campaign donors would someday purchase legislation. I guarantee that they would never consider money as free speech.
8 of 10 congressman & senators have given earmarks directly to campaign donors. That’s just earmarks. Think of all the legislation that is put into law that is tailored specifically for a donor, or the tax loopholes that are insisted upon on behalf of a campaign donor. Lobbyists are not allowed to take congressmen to dinner, unless they bring donor checks and call it a campaign fundraising. Why would we make it law that they cannot take them out to dinner if we didn’t realize there is a corrupting influence there. Because money is involved, we allow them to get around the rule. Thinking rationally, it become obvious who makes the laws. It is almost as if they are stating, “you can’t take me to dinner… unless you bring me a whole bunch of money. Otherwise it would be unethical.”
Proposal to fix the before mentioned problems:
- Limit campaign contributions to $250 annually.
- Eliminate all middle man donations. (A lobbyist can’t show up w/ a stack of donor checks)
- Eliminate SuperPAC’s as they are already borderline illegal.
- Cap fundraising to 500k per election. (this can be tailored to the office)
- Government match all donations up to the previously mentioned cap.
These five things would eliminate Quid Pro Quo because no person in their right mind is going to write legislation for a $250 donation. It would cut down on the time lawmakers spend fundraising. Currently they spend 30-60% of their time just fundraising. The elimination of bundled donations would ensure that lobbyists don’t have undue leverage on their lawmaker. It would really limit them to educators on issues which is all they should be. There is a term that Buddy Roemer uses: Free to Lead. If no one entity had donated to a congressman/senator more than $250 they would be “Free” to govern with their voters in mind instead of the Corporation that put the most into their campaign.