President Obama has called for a constitutional amendment that would reduce the vast amounts of money flowing into and through American politics. The president wants to see some constitutional process that would allow the regulation of campaign spending. President Obama’s remarks are the latest to call for a radical shift in campaign finance law after several federal court rulings, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 Citizens United decision, paved the way for unlimited corporate and union spending in candidate elections.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., has joined the ranks of politicians pushing for change. He introduced a proposal to amend the Constitution. His plan is dramatic. It would ban contributions from political action committees (PACs), for instance. Campaigns would be funded entirely by individual donations or money provided by a public-financing system. Rep. McNerney said radical change is needed. He stated:
The system was pretty bad before. Citizens United just made it worse. It changed from an arms race to a nuclear-arms race.
Outside spending in politics soared to more than $1 billion in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. That was up from nearly $340 million four years earlier, according to a report by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. The Center found in last year’s midterm races for the House and Senate, outside groups outspent the candidates themselves in 28 races. Sixteen states have called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Despite the high-profile calls for change, efforts to restrict campaign finance spending have failed to gain any traction in Congress. If anything, Congress and the courts are continuing to ease restrictions. For example, last year President Obama signed into law a $1 trillion spending bill that dramatically increased the amount of money political parties can raise from individual donors. That seems somewhat inconsistent with his current stand. Hopefully, he has seen the light. But will Congress wake up and do something about out-of-control campaign spending in this country? What do you think?
Source: USA Today
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