The Committee for Economic Development (CED) released a series of reports Wednesday finding an overwhelming majority of surveyed business leaders favored a ‘major overhaul’ of campaign finance law. The CED is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public-policy organization that focuses on issues that impact the business community.
The report titled ‘American Business Leaders On Campaign Finance And Reform’ was compiled by a bipartisan team of polling groups. Hart Research (Democratic) and American Viewpoint (Republican) surveyed a total of 302 business executives via online questionnaire. No party preference voters were not included in the study.
The subsequent issue brief, ‘Hiding in Plain Sight: The Problem of Transparency in Political Finance,’ stressed the necessity for new and increased transparency of political spending whilst observing robust first amendment protections.
The reports touched on four key areas that have become the focal point for reform, pay-to-play politics, outside spending, disclosure, and contribution limits.
The CED survey found 95 percent of respondents agreed at least some elements of the US system of financing elections system were ‘pay-to-play’ while 64 percent of those felt it is a serious problem. Only 5 percent would “not describe it as a pay-to-play system.”
Not simply corruption itself, but the appearance of corruption has a corrosive impact on the nation’s political economy. Even if pay-to-play politics isn’t taking place outright, the perception remains that money talks in Washington.
There has been an explosion of non-disclosed political spending since 2006. Over the last three election cycles, the percentage of total election spending that was not disclosed to the FEC has ballooned from 1.1 percent in 2006, up to almost 30 percent in 2012.
According to the brief, this is attributed to the, “[inadequate] current disclosure laws and the Federal Election Commission’s narrow interpretation of these statutes, the Court’s assumption has proven to be faulty. Political donors and spenders are finding it increasingly easy to avoid public scrutiny, as a growing number of organizations take advantage of porous rules to finance campaign activity without revealing the sources of their funding.”
Even though unlimited contributions to ‘outside’ organizations was upheld as constitutional, 89 percent of respondents felt there should be limits of some sort. Seventy-eight percent felt strongly about the issue as well.
These four pieces of the campaign finance puzzle have gone woefully unresolved and present a significant hurdle facing voters’ attitude towards the political process. Whether or not the nation’s institutions outside of the business community will take heed remains to be seen.
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Public financing records will undoubtedly spur speculation of politicians' platforms and agendas. This could have some effects we aren't prepared for, and could bring on cynicism.
With this extraordinary flow of money, campaigns are necessarily limited to career party politicians. An independent with a real job can't compete with the fund raising advantage of a party politician, especially if a PAC gets involved in the race.
Public financing and cut campaign season to six weeks for local elections, maybe three months for statewide and six months for national. These yearlong campaigns are ridiculous.
I would support the dissolution of the federal reserve bank. which would make the campaign finance question immaterial.
In reality. Most smaller or independent businesses are finding the influence and voice they used to have "bought out" too by large corporations.
"Even if pay-to-play politics isn’t taking place outright, the perception remains that money talks in Washington." Nice.
I agree with this though, I usually give politicians the benefit of the doubt, but the perception of corruption is just as hurtful as actual corruption, but in different ways.
Great start, but if they are correct that it is a pay to play system we have now, doesn't that mean that the only effective way to get that to change is for people and businesses to pay in the form of campaign contributions to get this corrupt system to change? That seems to be the only effective way to end the problem, more of the problem.
It is true that this could make things difficult, but the fact of the matter is it would make politicians have to answer questions about their relationships with the people who give them money. It will probably reduce the amount of money overall in Washington as some people back away, but it would do so on both sides. It would be a massive change, but I think the way things work these days it is a necessary one.
are we not already mired in cynicism? only way to go is up from here. The only thing to do is disclose campaign contributions and worry about our toxic political culture later. The partisan backlash will be like the dentist staining the plaque on your teeth: makes it easier to root out.
Great point, the only person who can break this mold is somebody who has made themselves a billionaire and can play with their own money... which doesn't exactly eliminate the issue at hand with the playing field created by money in politics.
I agree with Gary R, especially after watching his race closely. Please don't give up sir! There are many people who stand behind you.
Good article too Alex, thanks! I was worried that they might have had to do some selective polling of small business owners to get this favorable of a response.. After seeing who was polled specifically, in the results pdf, I find it interesting that around 120 of them were part of large corporations (over 1000 employees). One could conclude those large companies would be the most likely to prefer lax finance regulations to boost corporate sway, (since most of these large companies swear their profitability depends on huge kickbacks in the form of tax breaks and regulation loopholes.)
God bless Lessig. I've seen him interviewed on television re this topic. It could work.
Right now, if money is free speech, then the millionaires and billionaires can shout down the rest of us as if we were whispering into the wind. We really really need this.