Funding of federal elections

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by FA_Q2, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. FA_Q2
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    FA_Q2 Gold Member

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    So, I was reading through the responses on the revolution thread when I came across a bunch of people repeating the idea of publicly funded elections and railing against the corporate money in elections; particularly after the citizens united ruling. I want to make this its own thread because there is far to much to discuss in this area without derailing another thread. There are two parts to this: Public funding and corporate money.

    First: public funding is a complete wash. I wish people would simply cease putting this idea out there because it is completely untenable. There are a few reasons why but the most paramount amount them is who decides who gets the money. Who gets to make that decision because if there is public money for grabs maybe I should run for governor and ride the wave.

    Simply put, there is no way of sorting out the possible candidates that does not completely speak of a far more corrupt system than we currently have. You think our current 2 party system is corrupt, what are you going to see when we have to decide who, out of the thousand people that want to run in a given election, actually gets to run.

    The other problem is that the current incumbent has a massive advantage in any situation where funding is tight. They already have the public’s attention and a method of reaching out. A good example of this would be the many trips that Obama has conveniently taken to the battleground states a while back. All were funded outside the campaign because he did have legitimate reason and leeway to visit those places as the POTUS. That does not mean that he was not campaigning as he was there. Would you really be behind undercutting anyone attempting to oust a sitting candidate? That is crazy.

    Second: corporate money. You are not going to get the corporate money out of Washington and citizens united really did not make the problem much worse. Not only is the issue before they gain office but it continues while they are in office all the way until they retire. Do you really think that Gingrich did nothing to receive his ‘historian’ paycheck after he left congress. Of course he did. Being beholden to companies for reelection, IMHO, is actually a far lesser problem then politicians being purchased while they are in office for promised benefits either during their tenure of after. Short of illegalizing politicians from ever making money from anything other than their salaries, you are not going to limit this influence without removing the ability for politicians to pander to specific companies.

    Speaking to that, the only solution I believe will ever come close to working is removing congresses ability to pander to individual businesses through the tax code. Almost all the money will dry up as soon as government handouts in the form of corporate welfare are extinguished. .


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  2. Vidi
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    Vidi CDZ prohibited

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    deleted by vidi


    derailing in the first response is bad form.

    I apologize.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  3. martybegan
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    martybegan Platinum Member

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    Basically what you are advocating is an overall tax on whatever money a given person or corporation has coming in (income) or on revenue (profits). No deductions for anything whatsoever.

    I actually would like a model like that. it allows you to see what you are actually paying.
     
  4. ladyliberal
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    ladyliberal Progressive Princess

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    1) Who decides who will get the money is certainly a thorny issue, but not an intractable one. Various public financing systems have addressed this issue with varying success.

    Regarding the advantage of the incumbent:

    An incumbent has inherent structural advantages (and disadvantages) in systems with and systems without public financing. One advantage of incumbents is that, all else equal, they tend to out-raise their opponents. A sensible public financing system should reduce this particular advantage and challenge incumbency. See (Cambridge Journals Online - Abstract) for an analysis of this (I can only see the abstract, so it is possible that the entire study does not support this point)

    Regarding the corruptibility of a public financing system:

    I agree that a public financing system could be corrupted, but I don't understand how it would necessarily be more corrupt than our current one. Certainly, if we had an unelected commissar dispensing public funds this would be a horrible system. But what of a system where certified small donations to a candidate were matched by the government, or one in which each candidate who polled above a threshold was given free airtime?



    2) The political power of corporations will never be eliminated completely (and I, for one, don't even want it to be). That does not mean that it cannot be limited. Various campaign finance laws have done just that, both in the US and internationally. If a particular mechanism by which corporations use money to influence policy is substantively eliminated then necessarily the overall power of corporations to influence policy is reduced. That Gingrich was on a private payroll after he left office does not mean that he could have been controlled more directly if he had been taking secret direct money from corporations while in office.
     
  5. Wiseacre
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    Wiseacre Retired USAF Chief Supporting Member

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    It's a nice philosophical argument, but the reality is that it ain't going to happen. The SCOTUS has said that campaign contributions and money going into super PACs are a form of freedom of speech. Until that changes, nothing is going to change.
     
  6. FA_Q2
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    FA_Q2 Gold Member

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    As part of a solution, yes. I feel that will eliminate much corruption within the government that is inherent whenever you give politicians the power to decide specific individuals or groups get special monetary considerations.
    That’s really beside the point. What we debate here is not necessarily going to happen anytime soon. That does not preclude a good debate though ;)
    Too bad we cannot see the entire study. I realize that the incumbent has certain advantages to begin with but those are far easier to overcome when you have a free hand. When the government steps in and limits your resources to even the playing field, that advantage can quickly become the deciding factor.

    As far as the abstract; the only thing they mention is public financing limiting the ability for the incumbent to have a monetary advantage. There are a lot of other advantages that incumbency confers though.

    You said that there were various systems in place that had varying success. Can you cite one such example? I was unaware of any successful public funding of candidates. Previous success would be very interesting (not to mention quite damaging to my op :p )
    I believe it would be more corrupt because you are giving a SINGLE institute the power to corrupt the voting system. You can argue that corporate money does the same but there is no conspiracy out there for a single candidate. Sure, one company might try and influence the electorate to vote for the candidate they like but there is always another entity doing the exact same thing on the other side. When you take that away and give one entity the power you have a higher chance that system is corrupted.


    Then there is still the issue of who gets the money. Without solving that, there is no possible way for a public funding option. Do you have a possible solution to that problem?

    Free airtime is actually something I could get behind though. We already have a PBS, I an not against the idea that the candidates should have some time on there for debate/explaining themselves.
    No, and I would agree that I do not want to eliminate corporate political influence. There is a place for that. What I abhor is the corruption inherent in the system. Sure, when Gingrich received his payday (during or after his term) has nothing to do with the level of influence over his policy. That was part of my point. Limiting campaign funds is rather meaningless because if you stop the leak in one place (during the campaign) it will travel to another (jobs after service). I don’t actually think citizens united changed much other than all the money is going upfront now rather than at the back end. The corruption remains constant. The point I was attempting to make is that the only way you are going to limit corporate influence within the political theater to something more appropriate and less corrupt is take away the gains that are made. Namely in the tax code. The other side of that is in the regulation but that is a different animal because you actually want businesses input in regulation. It is tough to create good regulation when the only people you do not include in the conversation are the experts in the field.
     
  7. Steelplate
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    Steelplate Bluesman

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    If you are eligible to run for governor? Throw your hat in the ring. If you make it through the Primary process, your share of the Public fund will be made available. Of course, full disclosure of your primary donors will be required and any excess funds from the Primaries will have to be refunded to those donors in the exact ratio that they were given to you.

    There would be no more anonymous donations.

    Businesses will have their voices heard, but so will the rest of the people of the country.
     
  8. candycorn
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    candycorn Alis volat propriis

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    One thing that is a common sense we-can-do-it-tomorrow is this; pass a law that TV, Radio, Print gives free time every 2 years to the candidates for President, House of Representatives, and the Senate; from September 1 to Election Day.

    The airwaves are given to the TV and Radio stations for free and asking for a little give back every 2 years is not too much to ask. Anyone with X number of signatures on a petition or an otherwise proven legitimate chance at effecting the outcome of the election is given time to campaign.

    The tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars needed to campaign is no longer there.

    With one man saying he's willing to contribute $100M ; it's time for a new rule.
     
  9. FA_Q2
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    FA_Q2 Gold Member

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    No, I could not support such an idea because you are essentially shoring up the two party system. That has caused enough problems but making it impossible for an independent to run would be a travesty.

    As far as anonymous donations: that is another story. I can actually agree with the citizen’s united ruling because I do not believe the government has the right to limit your speech but speech has never been an anonymous act in any shape or form. To allow people to donate anonymously does not (in my mind) have anything to do with rights. If you want to support something then you should actually have to support it. Not hide in the shadows and donate.
     
  10. FA_Q2
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    FA_Q2 Gold Member

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    First, that would not eliminate the need for ads. Not at all. Second, I cannot agree to requiring someone else to provide air time for the candidates. There is no reason for that. We have a public broadcasting station. If they want to give airtime, use that.
     

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