We’re The Closest We’ve Ever Been To Campaign Finance Reform

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.

The movement for major campaign finance reform is closer to overhauling our system than at any point in the previous four decades.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=1294711
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“small donor matching” perpetuates the problem and is a BAD idea. If you want to put a million bucks into a candidate you just donate 50K in small increments and Uncle Sugar’s matching keeps the big bucks in politics.

If we want to get the corrupting and polluting effects of big bucks in politics gone we need to get the big bucks gone no mater how scrubbed and pretty that money is. If we want to see bogus attack ads gone de-fund them. Don’t put smiley faces on the money that brings them to you.

The idea is to make your ballot equal to the ballot of others. If I can vote and put a million bucks into a race and all you can do is vote your vote does not count as much as mine. That’s what needs fixing. Politics should not be for sale no matter how pretty the money is buying it.

MAGA? OK. We used to have public financing in those mythical days when we were great.


How close are the Democrats to taking the US Senate? Without an estimate of that, how can you say we’re the closest we’ve ever been to campaign finance reform?

Further, reminder - Trump had a 36% approval rating on Election Day 2016; today he is in the mid-forties. A Democratic POTUS is far from certain.


The bit said “as close as we’ve ever been” not that we were there. And come on guy…

Trump’s approval rating on day 1 was 47.8 and his disapprove was 41.7. It is now approve 43.3 and disapprove is 52.7. Stop shoveling bullshit Mr. Letterman.

Who the hell are all these “letter people” that popped up on TPM to free load crap into the joint?


Are we as close as we were when McCain-Feingold was signed into law?


It’s disturbing that the discussion of what “campaign finance reform” might look like takes as its starting point the premise that campaigns live or die on how much money they can spend.

The reason campaigning costs comparatively nothing in the UK (for example) is that political advertising is all but banned. Parties get allocated slots for a handful of long-form TV spots but other than that they aren’t allowed to advertise on TV or in print, and even “earned media” is limited by restrictions on political reporting in the 3 months prior to an election.

That would be incompatible with the first amendment in the US, of course; but it’s noteworthy that even such extreme regulation doesn’t seem to make voters any less informed, or disadvantage small parties any more than is the case in the American model. The billions spent on US elections are, in other words, purely wasted money. The only thing your donations accomplish is to neutralise the donations of the opposing candidate (and, if you’re a corporate donor, corruptly buy you influence).

Banning advertising might not work in the US. But apart from a single, notoriously wrong, partisan Supreme Court decision, I don’t think there’s any clear reason why campaigns couldn’t just be forbidden to take donations, directly or indirectly. You can argue that money is a form of speech, sure; but it’s definitely a form of money, and paying money privately to politicians is bribery.

If there were a broad public consensus around that uncontroversial point, I don’t believe the law would be an obstacle. And I think the public would overwhelmingly support it if the political class allowed it to be on the table. So if you’re going to talk about goals for reform, why settle for weak-sauce measures that avoid the real problem?


There won’t be any campaign finance reform until we get a new USSC that isn’t packed with five corporate shills.


And how does this affect corporate giving? Since Toady Roberts has declared that corporations are people will this help?


I like the idea of vouchers but there are other problems such as the revolving door that can suborn political independence, problems that funding restrictions or term limits couldn’t solve

I’m not sure real political independence is possible or even desirable given the nature of representative government as well as constituencies generally and the need to be re-elected regardless of funding source(s).

What seems lacking as much as anything is a willingness to compromise and an attitude, something akin to Big Daddy Unruh’s assertion that [stripped of vulgarity], “If you can’t take what the lobbyists offer and still vote against them, you don’t belong here.”


One of the problems is that single-issue funders have gotten much more effective. In the old days, lobbyists gave money all round because they couldn’t know who would be in a position to help them, or at least not hurt them too much. Now, with candidates so dependent on fundraising, big money can reward or punish much more effectively.


Fair or not, I assume any TPM commenter I don’t recognize is a troll or a bot (they’re all just Russkies to me).

Harsh perhaps, but that’s what we’ve been reduced to…

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Doesn’t seem to make them any more informed either, hence Brexit.

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We damn well need to fix that, or any kind of campaign finance reform is meaningless.

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Even with CU, corporations aren’t full people. Thank goodness. They can run as many political ads as they want, but they can’t just plain give money and resources to a candidate. Unless they’re Fox News.


Or Russians…

They will have to cut something to pay for it.

I can see it now ill pay you $20 if you contribute $10

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Try letting the SEC leadership be appointed by the party opposite of the President. So they’re properly motivated to investigate who shorted the index funds right before the missiles fly, or the President makes a boneheaded, market spooking announcement.

You are looking at Inauguration Day 2017, not Election Day 2016.
E.g. see Gallup: https://news.gallup.com/poll/197231/trump-clinton-finish-historically-poor-images.aspx

You haven’t been reduced to anything, likely you all were always assholes, it just took the stress of Trump to bring it out. Harsh, but…

I’ve been a TPM Prime member since 2013, not a Richard-come-lately.

That you failed to distinguish between Election Day 2016 and Inauguration Day 2017 does not justify all that you wrote. You don’t own the site unless you are Josh Marshall in disguise, and it is not for you to say people you don’t recognize are Russkies and such. The two of you and Trump make a good match.

I didn’t subscribe and come here to encounter assholes like you, there are enough such available for free on social media if I had had such an appetite. Well, either TPM bans the two of you or maybe I don’t renew my subscription to TPM this year.