Thursday, April 3, 2014

campaign deform

The Supreme Court drove another nail into the coffin of campaign spending limits with its decision yesterday in the McCutcheon case. The ruling left intact, though maybe not for long, the existing per-candidate contribution limits.

I'm dismayed that big money plays such a big role in our politics -- and that a majority on the Court really doesn't understand how politics works today and why their supposed "free speech" principles are further corrupting out electoral system.

Nevertheless, I don't dismiss out of hand the suggestions of Jonathan Rauch, who for years has warned about the corrupting influence of unbridled interest groups. He argues for removing even more limits on contributions and spending.

If the burgeoning gray market in political money is to be countered, a few things need to happen. First, political money needs to be made easier, not harder, for politicians to raise. Second, the money needs to be encouraged to flow through channels that are ultimately accountable to voters and the national interest. Third, candidate and party donations need to flow in straightforward, observable ways rather than being routed circuitously, so that everyone can see what’s going on and vote or campaign accordingly. Fourth, disclosure needs to be improved for the nonprofits and other black holes.
He's at least half right -- that public disclosure of contributions needs to be increased. I'm not sure, however, that embracing large contributions won't have offsetting negative effects. Anyway, let's consider it.

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