If you follow politics, you know the names Koch, Adelson, American Crossroads and Priorities USA Action. If you don’t know the names, you know their tools, the fearmongering ads that purport that voting for this candidate or another will cause the downfall of the country.
These are donors and organizations that spent millions of dollars trying to elect the next president. All in all, the 2012 election cost $5.8 billion, up from the $5.4 billion spent in 2008, with a majority of that money being spent not by candidates campaigns themselves, but rather given to super-PAC creations that arose following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. This decision allowed individuals and groups to spend in unlimited amounts, as long as it went to “unaffiliated” political action committees, that could, in turn produce stuff like this.
This deluge of cash could be slowed, however, with the introduction of a bill today by Democrats Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Representative John Sarbanes (Md.), who also wrote an introductory op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post. The bill, dubbed the “Government by the People” Act, would work to reduce the power of special interests and big money, and restore the power to the people.
The bill has three main provisions:
Providing a $25 refundable “My Voice” tax credit, designed to attract donor participation.
Creating a “Freedom From Influence” Matching Fund that would match donations on a six-to-one basis under $150. A candidate would have to prove their support is from a broad base in order to receive these funds, and agree to limit large donations.
Giving established candidates additional funds in the last 60 days of the campaign to battle the onslaught of negative ads from Super PACs. This would act as a counterbalance for the candidate that truly has broad support versus the candidate what has donors with deep pockets.
While for much of America’s history special interests and wealthy donors have gotten extra consideration, since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, this has allowed, nay, demanded, that candidates that wish to gain office cater to these groups. This essentially means that America has gone to that golden rule that reads, “he who has the gold makes the rules.” We have seen this in the creation of tax loopholes, bills that make it into law, and even court decisions.
The effects of the Government by the People Act would be that politicians are more responsive to the majority, not the few. In order to receive matching funds, they would have to spend more time trying to solicit donations from constituents, and less time courting the few wealthy donors that would invariably make demands of them.
Right now, 69 percent believe that the Republican party pushes policies that favor the rich, and 30 percent of Americans believe the same of Democrats. Unfortunately, the government “by the people, for the people” seemingly has perished from this Earth, and been replaced with a government by the few and for the few. This bill is an attempt to return the country somewhat to Lincoln’s standard, by taking the power away from the rich and returning it to the people.
Daily Kos has a petition where you can add your support to the passage of this bill. Though aiming for 10,000 signatures, as of this writing, the petition has already doubled that number. If you disagree with the notion that big money should run politics, become a citizen co-sponsor of the Government by the People Act by adding your name to the petition here.