Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Campaign Spending Reform: Are Our Hands Tied?

          The mid-term elections are upon us, and one of the glaring take-away messages from any political election is the amount of money spent on passing or defeating propositions and candidates. It’s been estimated that approximately $6-BILLION was spent on the last presidential election alone. That kind of money could have gone a long way to reducing the national debt or ending world hunger or cleaning up the environment, etc. In addition, there’s no proof that the more you spend, the better your chances of success.
           Over the past 20+ years I’ve often thought that politicians and lobbyists would do anything, including spending vast sums of money, to accomplish their goals. I doubt they even thought about the consequences of spending this kind of money. Then the elected officials are obligated to vote according to the desires of the contributor.

          While I’ve continuously espoused the need for limits on campaign spending, I hadn’t really looked into why something hadn’t been done about it. A couple months ago I began doing some research on the subject.

          I learned there are several reasons why, to date, we have not installed any significant limitations on campaign spending. These reasons were most succinctly reported by Steve Gillman (Huff Post Politics, “The Blog,” 10/23/12). As he summarized, we can’t significantly reduce the ridiculous spending because:

            -  It’s a First Amendment right to speak our minds and put 
                    our money where our mouths are.

            -  If you limit the amount of money to a candidate, he/she 
                    can always get the support if you give it to an 
                    organization that supports him/her.

            -  Even if you limited contributions to $10, a candidate 
                    would still favor such-and-such donor over a non 

            -  With full disclosure of who gives what to whom it’s still 
                    quite easy to bury or hide completely an individual 
                    name deep within an organization like PACs (political 
                    action committees). I love that Ralph Nader suggested 
                    members of Congress be required to wear corporate 
                    logos of their sponsors, like race car drivers!

            -  If you get rid of the PACs, contributors could still pay for 
                    advertising without the approval of the candidate. 
                    There’s currently no law that could get around this.

            -  More obscure ways of contributing include:   if your 
                    candidate is an author, for instance, you can buy lots 
                    of his/her book and the revenue goes to the candidate. 
                    You can later use the books as kindling.

          So, you see, there really isn’t anything we can currently do about the obscene amount spent on this wasteful (my opinion) endeavor. Politicians are hungry for more money. I’m hungry for a government that puts our needs ahead of private coat pockets.

          As a whole, we Americans are a pretty creative group. I hope that, in the future, we value a solution enough to put time, money and energy into a way to do things better ... better for us all.

Contact me at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com
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