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"No-Limit" Campaign Financing

No limit on contributions, but a portion is given to all candidates
  (+2, -6)
(+2, -6)
  [vote for,

This campaign finance reform idea has five parts.

1. Any person, company, group, organization, or foreign country can give as much money as they want in the name of any candidate who has announced his candidacy and qualifies for the ballot. Potential donors could include Bill Gates, labor unions, and communist China.

2. ALL money is collected by the Federal Election Commission and not the candidates themselves, and is immediately subject to full disclosure. Candidates who want to fund their own election "donate" their money to the FEC the same way.

3. Half of the money donated in a candidate's name goes directly into his or her account, with the remaining half split evenly among all qualified candidates in the same race. Any interest collected on the accounts goes to the FEC and not to the candidates.

4. Candidates can only access funds collected since they announced their candidacy or since they qualified for the ballot (whichever is later). In addition, FEC accounts are the sole source of funds for campaign expenses and can only be used for election-related expenses. Candidates who drop out of their race have their funds split among remaining candidates, or (in the case of one remaining candidate) given to the FEC.

5. Campaign funds are frozen at midnight before election day, with all surplus funds going to the FEC help defray the cost of oversight and elections.

The justification for this is as follows: People should be able to donate as much money to any candidate they want -- but they are not just donating to a candidate, they are also donating to the election process itself. As an example, if there was a horse race where one owner made a lane of perfectly manicured grass for his horse and left knee-deep mud for all the others, we would rightly say that the race was unfair. If we were to force everyone to fund perfect turf for all horses, people who don't like horse racing would think it was unfair. By requiring all campaigns involved to fund the process we insure a minimum level of fairness. (Or we could consider it a tax on "wealthy" candidates and welfare for "poor" candidates.<evil grin>)

Examples: Candidate A raises $1 million. Candidate B raises $1000. After FEC magic, candidate A has $750,250 and candidate B and $250,750 and you have a more competitive race without public money being wasted.

mrouse, Apr 06 2002


       The more you over-work the plumbing, the easier it is to stop the drain.   

       I think candidates should be required to demonstrate that they can run on as little money as possible. The ones who can do the most with the least get my vote. That's efficiency. There should be some sort of budgetary kobayashi maru test given to them.
RayfordSteele, Apr 06 2002

       The complexity is just closing the loopholes. All money gets sent to the Federal Election Commission. All money is divided by the FEC into candidate's accounts using a simple formula. All election funds come from the FEC.   

       The Federal Election Commission is simply the honest broker -- to circumvent the system, not only would you need to raise money outside of the system, but you would have to spend money outside of the system -- and you can easily punish radio/tv/newspapers for accepting advertising dollars that didn't come from the FEC.   

       The nice thing about it, big contributions can't stifle debate, but they can help foster debate.
mrouse, Apr 06 2002

       Wouldn't this just stop people donating? I know that a Liberal Democrat wouldn't be too pleased if the BNP got some of the money they were puting forward for their party.
[ sctld ], Apr 06 2002

       Au contraire; big contributions are made to in order to stifle debate.   

       Who keeps the FEC honest, and how do they get appointed? If you look close enough, you'll see that the parties have hijacked government at every level. Even the Supreme Court gets pulled into it these days.
RayfordSteele, Apr 06 2002

       It would cut down on donations -- perhaps even drastically -- but it would not kill them altogether. After all, we have millionaires who spend more of their own money getting elected than they will ever reap in pay.   

       Besides, the problem is getting candidates to raise *less* money, not *more* money(if I remember right, GWB snubbed the entire "matching funds" thing because he could raise more than he would get via the federal government). If a senator is only able to raise $1 million rather than $10 million, that might be considered a plus, especially if his opponents have a loud enough voice to challenge him.   

       One of the ways to keep the FEC honest is full disclosure -- if they are forced to tell the press and the public who is contributing how much to which candidate, a person with a calculator could figure out how much each candidate should have. Plus, fraud would require candidates to raise and *spend* the money in secret -- hard to do when you are paying for advertising.
mrouse, Apr 06 2002

       "Wouldn't this just stop people donating?"   

       You say that like it's a BAD thing.
StarChaser, Apr 06 2002

       It's not a bad thing as long as the donations are used for the correct purpose. For example, here in the UK each candidate has a limit to their spending, in order to cut out bribery and what not. Extra money is used to help publish the parties magazine, help out charities etc. Although i imagine this doesn't happen in the united states and has resulted in a two horse race.
[ sctld ], Apr 06 2002

       And politics in the UK isn't a two horse race?
calum, Apr 07 2002

       I was thinking of the same problem, but I decided that having more people run for office was actually a net good. After all, they need to get a certain number of signatures (I think, though states may vary), and the money could only be spent on campaign-related activities.
mrouse, Apr 07 2002

       Calum: Politics in the UK has never been a two horse race. Especially in Northern Ireland, Wales , and Scotland where the national parties take a large chunk of the vote and are somewhat equal to Labour and Conservative. Also, we have seen a ditinct rise in the Liberal turn out. I am beginning to think that unless the Conservatives can come out of the shadows, the Liberals might becomea more dominant party once more.
[ sctld ], Apr 07 2002

       [ sctld ], I will have to disagree with you on that one. There hasn't been a non Tory/Labour government since 1922. There is a wider spectrum of political affiliation in the UK as the PR-elected Scottish Parliament shows, but the first-past-the-post Westminster electoral system ensures a two party system.
calum, Apr 07 2002

       Yes, but which two parties is the question. The two main parties can change. And there were two non labour/conservative governments after 1922, the National Governments of the 1930's and the Co-alition governments of the second world war.
[ sctld ], Apr 07 2002

       if political corruption is certainty then why don't we legalise it and publish a price list ...
Aristotle, Apr 07 2002

       "People should be able to donate as much money to any candidate they want..."
I'll buy that, but foreigners and corporations shouldn't. Mind you, the issue here is the whole 'Freedom of Speech' thing, pesky as it is.
phoenix, Apr 07 2002

       But foreigners and corporations would have to do so in the open, under full and immediate disclosure, and part of the funds they give would go to competing candidates. Of course, then China might give someone they hate $10,000 just so they suffer $100,000 worth of bad publicity... ;-)
mrouse, Apr 08 2002


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