Real Hope for Campaign Finance Reform?
The Government by the People Act is the most widely-supported legislation to reform campaign finance to come before Congress.
On Wednesday, Democratic Representative John Sarbanes introduced the Government by the People Act, which makes members of Congress more accountable to the people who elect them by limiting the influence of corporate and wealthy donors while augmenting the influence of small donors.
The Act will establish a "Freedom from Influence Fund," financed by closing corporate tax loopholes, that will match contributions of individuals (not corporations) of $1 to $150 on a six-to-one basis. Strict limits will be placed on contributions, and all donations must be disclosed. To encourage a wide number of small donations, donors would qualify for a tax credit of up to $25.
To counter outside spending groups, the Act will create "People PACs" and increase matching funds in the last two months of a general election.
More than 130 Members of Congress are original co-sponsors of H.R. 20, and over 40 progressive organizations are backing the bill, including Public Citizen, Americans for Campaign Reform, Common Cause and the Sierra Club.
Praise for the bill poured in after it was introduced:
Dan Cantor, National Director, Working Families: “Our democracy must be more than a disagreement among the wealthy. In jurisdictions like Connecticut and New York City that have adopted public financing systems, it has forced candidates to seek support among voters, not just millionaires and wealthy interests. It has turned elections into contests of ideas, not dollars. I can’t think of anything Congress needs more.”
Karen Flynn of Common Cause said, “The Government by the People Act is a shot of powerful medicine for the cancer of big money growing within our body politic.”
Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club said: “Americans are sick of big polluters warping our government’s priorities and we’re tired of paying the costs of toxic fossil fuel policies with our air, our water, and our families’ health. It’s time Congress works for the people again, and Congressman Sarbanes’ bill is a huge step in the right direction.”
David Donnelly, Executive Director, Public Campaign Action Fund: "Americans feel marginalized by a political system fueled by, and bent toward, a few wealthy interests. To rebuild public trust and to encourage all Americans of every background to participate, the Government By the People Act turns the financing of elections over to ordinary Americans. When this passes, it will mean schoolteachers, secretaries, and small business owners can support the candidate of their choice without getting drowned out.”
What You Can Do
Support and Track the Government by the People Act (HR 20) using OpenCongress. (you can use the text of previous' supporters messages if you'd like).