A Not-So-Crazy Campaign Finance Proposal

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Just wanted to add a note to the blogopshere’s discussion, such as it was, of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on campaign finance reform.

In case you missed it, the Supreme Court gutted the portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that prohibited corporations, non-profits funded by corporations, and labor unions from running campaign ads in the 30 days before primaries and the 60 days before general elections.

Some say it’s a victory for free speech, some call it a step in the Court’s rightward march and a victory only for the powerful interests who will have yet more sway in this country’s elections. I don’t much care.

That’s because I think this particular element of campaign finance misses the point (just to pile on after it’s already dead). Its creators’ intentions were good, and anything that reduces the influence of special interests in politics is doing more good than bad, but I care far more about how campaign money is received than about how it is spent. I saw Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, suggest this once: make contributions like blind trusts, so that when a donation of $5 or $500 plops into a candidate’s campaign chest, he or she doesn’t know who dropped it there.

That way, campaign donations would be made out of genuine support for candidates, and not because corporations or special interests hope to have access to a candidate they supported after he or she wins. And opponents of campaign finance reform can’t credibly cry that their right to free speech is being impeded.

Make sense, no? Probably means it’s doomed in Washington…

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