American Government and Organization PS1301 Thursday, 14 October
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American Government and OrganizationPS1301Thursday, 14 October0
AnnouncementsThe last presidential debateThe Washington Post daily tracking pollSecond midterm scheduled for next Thursday, October 14Beware of the problem with exams and family tragedy. 0
An Example of the ProblemIm going to miss your 12:00 POLS class because my Grandfather is in the hospital. He was working in his tool shed last night and his grinder sparked some gunpowder next to him and the shed exploaded. He has 3rd degree burns on his arms, hands, and back. Im sorry for the inconvience and if you could let me know what we did in class on wendsday i would appriciate it. Sorry again. Texas Tech Student, Fall 2003Again i want to apologize first, my friend is in extream pain and doesn't have a car down here for to take herself to the hospital so i am going to drive her there. It is 11:05 right now im going to do everything that I can to make it to class but if I dont make it in time that is where I will be. I just wanted to inform you with my problem and if there is anything i can do to make up what we go over in class let me know please. Thanks The Same Texas Tech Student, Fall 2003Im sorry i will be missing your 12:00 to 12:50 POLS class. I have to go back home to the hospital becuase my grandfather will be having surgury at 1:00. Sorry for this inconvience. The Same Texas Tech Student, Fall 2003Im am very sorry that i have to miss your test. Earlier this moring there was a death in my family and I had to find a flight home. I will be back around 5:00 on sunday so I was wondering when it would be a good time to talk to you about the test that I'm missing. What do I need to do to make up for that zero in the grade book. Because obviously I cannot afford to have a zero for my test grade. If you have any questions and would like to get ahold of me you can try my cell phone at xxx xxxx. Or just e-mail me back please. Again im sorry for the inconvience. The Same Texas Tech Student, Fall 2003
Attitudes about Campaign Finance
Campaign MoneyA good candidate and a good message are not enough. Without money, the voters do not see the candidate or hear the message.In contemporary candidate-centered campaigns, candidates (as opposed to the party organizations) must assemble their own campaign teams, raise their own money, hire consultants and technical specialists, and design and execute their own individual campaign strategies.Recent elections reflect the rise in cost.
Regulating Campaign MoneyTaxpayers partially finance presidential campaigns, but most of the money spent on congressional elections comes from private sources.But money is distributed very unequally, thus its role in electoral politics threatens democratic equality and raises the suspicion that elected officials will serve as the agents of their contributors rather than their constituents.
Efforts to Regulate Campaign MoneyPrior to the 1970s campaign money was effectively unregulated.Congress had passed some limits on contributions and spending.The Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, which placed unrealistically low limits on spending in congressional elections, was in force for more than four decades, but no one was prosecuted under the act.
Efforts to Regulate Campaign MoneyAs campaigns became more candidate-centered and broadcast campaigning became the standard, costs increased the demand for money, but many began to fear that winners would favor contributors over constituents.The legal response to this situation was the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.
Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA)Required candidates running for political office disclose an itemized accounting of all expenditures and donations of more than $100.
FECA 1974Instituted a system for public financing of presidential elections. Limited individuals to $1,000 and $5,000 for groups. Created political action committees (PACs)Spending limits were also set for congressional races
Legal ChallengesIn Buckley v. Valeo (1976) the Supreme Court upheld the reporting requirements and contribution limits, but rejected spending limits on the grounds that they interfered with political speech.Also rules that individuals could spend unlimited amounts of money on the election or defeat a candidate as long as those expenditures were not coordinated with the candidate or party campaigns.Candidate self-financing-the millionaires exception.
The Campaign Finance Regulation SystemCampaign finance operates through two parallel systems: Money going directly to candidates is subject to limits on the size of contributions and full disclosure of sources.Presidential candidates who accept public funds also must observe spending limits. But money raised and spent outside of the candidates campaigns (soft money, issue advocacy) is lightly regulated and not subject to limits.
The Flow of Campaign MoneyCritical to the recent reform was the fact that the unregulated campaign finance system (soft money) outpaced the regulated system.Spending in House and Senate campaigns also has continued to grow since FECA took effect, rising by an average of about 7 percent from one election year to the next.A great deal of variation, however, exists among congressional candidates. Some raise and spend a great deal, others do not.
How Money is Spent
Soft MoneyConcerned that spending limits were choking off traditional local party activity in federal elections, Congress liberalized FECA in 1979, amending the act to allow unrestricted contributions and spending for state and local party-building and get-out-the-vote activities. These monies are commonly called soft money.In March of 2002, Congress passed a law prohibiting national parties from raising and spending soft party money for federal candidates.
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002Also know as McCain-Feingold (who sponsored the legislation).First, the law prohibits raising and spending of soft money for federal candidates.Second, the law redefines what constitutes a campaign advertisement, subject to the disclosure requirements and contribution limits and contribution source restrictions of federal law. Third, it raised the limits on "hard money." The limits on how much an individual can give to a federal candidate rose to $2,000 an election, from $1,000, with subsequent increases allowed for inflation.Upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003.
Changes in Contribution Limits (Hard Money)
Issue Advocacy527 groups (Named after Section 527 of the IRS code) are tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions. Most are advocacy groups trying to influence federal elections through voter mobilization efforts and so-called issue ads that tout or criticize a candidate's record. 527s must report their contributors and expenditures to the IRS, unless they already file identical information at the state or local level. See opensecrets.org for a list of these groups and their disclosures The problem is that the tax code is sufficiently complex to allow these groups to remain obscure and avoid most forms of disclosure.
Regulation on Political AdsAdvocacy vs. issue adsDoes it include magic words such as vote for elect or vote against?Most issue ads avoid the words but are still advocacy ads"Last year, John McCain voted against solar and renewable energy. That means more use of coal-burning plants that pollute our air. Ohio Republicans care about clean air. So does Governor Bush. He led one of the first states in America to clamp down on old coal-burning electric power plants. Bushs clean air laws will reduce air pollution more than a quarter million tons a year. Thats like taking 5 million cars off the road. Governor Bush, leading, for each day dawns brighter." The BCRA provides a better definition: Any broadcast advertisement that depicts a candidate within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election, and is targeted to the voting constituency of that candidate, constitutes an electioneering communication, subject to federal campaign laws.
Independent AdsSwift Boat Veterans for TruthMoveon.org
Comparisons with Other Countries
The dilemma then is that meaningful elections require money, but the pursuit of money can subvert the very purpose of elections.