Jay Reding.com

Gingrich’s Campaign Finance Common Sense

Newt Gingrich is proposing ditching McCain-Feingold and the system of limiting campaign contributions in general. Instead, anyone can give any amount to anyone, but each contribution must be available online within 24 hours.

It’s a sensible alternative to the current messy system of campaign finance rules. As it stands, McCain-Feingold restricts political speech while at the same time creating loopholes for irresponsible 527 groups and others. McCain-Feingold simply doesn’t work, and its ultimate goal of removing monied interests from politics in impossible without destroying the most important kind of speech in a democracy.

What we need is more transparency and accountability. Everyone plays by the same rules, and every voter can see who has given, when, and how much. The reality of the current system is that those who want to buy a politician merely have to go through some extra hoops to do so, and there’s no way of fixing it without dramatically curtailing the right of voters to support the candidates and issues of their choosing. So why bother with restrictions when transparency will ensure that groups like MoveOn.org or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth don’t get to play by less restrictive rules than the ostensibly more responsible political parties.

The Founders made it clear in The Federalist 10 that it is impossible to remove faction from government, and the surest cure for faction is not by restricting speech but by embracing freedom of speech. It’s a lesson that Gingrich seems to have learned as a history professor. It’s too bad that so few lawmakers don’t seem to understand it.

6 responses to “Gingrich’s Campaign Finance Common Sense”

  1. Erica says:

    I don’t see how being completely transparent about bribing political figures makes it any less of a bribe.

    And yes, since most pols are paying themselves (via spouses) out of their campaign warchests, what we’re talking about is bribery. Hell a few politicians are even known to simply take a percentage of every “donation” into their own pockets. Makes the math a lot simpler, I guess.

  2. Seth says:

    I’m sure giving corporations free reign to spend as much as they want will really solve the issue of too much money in campaigns from those ‘irrespsonsible’ groups.

  3. jack says:

    Special interests contribute all they want right now. They bribe all they want right now. Campaign finamce ‘irregularities’ are handled after the election with slap-on-the-wrist fines.

    And many avoid this problem completely by playing in the loopholes.

    With transparency we’ll know who donated what to who, we’ll lose many of those commercials that blandly attack while allowing the candidate they assist plausible deniability.

    And we’ll remove an important limit on free speech.

  4. Seth says:

    The answer to a flawed system is not to scrap it but fix the flaws. I see you’re the type of person that thinks Enron giving Tom DeLay a $4,000,000 campaign contribution would be labeled as ‘free speech,’ so odds are we aren’t going to agree on this one.

    Under the current system we have the ability to know who is running an ad. We know who’s contributing to whom and how much–Gingrich makes the assertion that contributions should be up within 24 hours online. We have that online right now, but candidates have to file 4 times a year, so there’s nothing revolutionary there. The only change is that Gingrich wants his rich buddies to give more of their money to Republicans. This change makes no sense whatsoever.

  5. Erica says:

    Campaign finamce ‘irregularities’ are handled after the election with slap-on-the-wrist fines.

    Tell that to Duke Cunningham.

  6. jack says:

    Nor would I have trouble with a $4,000,000 contribution to Hillary Clinton.

    An open, obvious contribution. As opposed to quiet, hidden contributions that are acted on just the same but have deniability due to the fact that were kept unaware of it–and now she gets to dance on strings we can’t see. Support legislation as re-payment for favors–but it looks legit because we don’t know that someone pledged $4,000,000 worth of attack ads from their 527.