Public Campaign Finance Reform Legislation has Been Introduced in the U.S. House
H.R. 20, THE GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE ACT, WOULD LIMIT THE DISENFRANCHISING ROLE OF BIG MONEY INTERESTS IN CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS
The cost of a congressional campaign, as well as viable candidates’ need to raise large amount of money from corporations, wealthy campaign donors and special interests, has spiraled out of control. In the last election, the cost of the top ten competitive Senate races averaged $34 million per campaign – double what it was just four years ago.
It is no secret that the role of money in politics is ever increasing, who stands for office, who wins, and, most critically, the eventual public policy Congress enacts. Big money is the main reason Congress is increasingly out of step with the interests of hard working, everyday Americans, particularly on issues of economic insecurity, and particularly with racial and ethnic minorities and low-income Americans. It is becoming increasingly clear that income and wealth inequality is rooted in political inequality. Until we break this dependence on big money special interests in our campaign system, the policy agenda for everyday Americans will be thwarted – whether it be improving Americans’ economic security, fighting for workers’ rights, improving stewardship of environment, you name it. The two basic imperatives of a healthy democracy— the right to vote and the right to have your voice be heard, for your vote to mean something, our protections against big money buying elections —desperately need to be strengthened. Too many candidates are too busy talking to Political Action Committees (PACs) or special interests to listen to their local community-based constituents.
To address this compelling problem, the NAACP supports H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. The Government By the People Act is a comprehensive reform package designed to combat the influence of big money politics, raise civic engagement and amplify the voices of everyday Americans. Specifically, this legislation would provide all Americans with a $25 refundable tax credit to help spur contributions to candidates for Congressional office and establish a fund to multiply the impact of small dollar donations ($150 or less per election cycle) by matching the donations, as long as the candidate receiving the donations agrees to forgo big money donations from special interests. The legislation would also prevent Super PACs and Dark Money interests from drowning out the voices of constituents by providing citizen-funded candidates who are able to raise at least $50,000 in additional small-dollar donations within the final 60 days before an election to be eligible for additional resources. The Government By the People Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Sarbanes (MD) and currently has over 125 co-sponsors.
The NAACP supports legislation which would restore the confidence of the voters that their federally elected officials are listening to them. It would also allow candidates to spend less time talking to special interests and more time listening to their potential constituents.