The Call of the Past
Tuesday, May 02, 2006 :::
This editorial brought back some memories for me:
Let it be noted that the 2006 congressional elections are subject to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law's muzzling of political speech as expressed in advocacy spots within 60 days of the November vote. With barely two dozen or so races actually competitive, few incumbents now have reason to fear being defeated come Election Day.
Arrogant politicians like McCain show why Congress desperately needs term limits.
One of the most irritating issues I once had to confront was campaign finance "reform." Whenever the talk came around to term limits, some bright-eyed beltway goo-goo would chirp that the problem wasn't incumbency, it was all that dirty money in politics. With some tweaking of existing laws, or better yet, full public financing of campaigns, the nation would enter a new, golden age.
Of course, the greatest problem with such reforms was that Congress would have to write the rules. And no incumbent has or will ever create rules that leave even the sliver of a chance that a challenger could sent them packing. The McCain-Feingold legislation did nothing except create enormous loopholes, which, in turn, gave rise to 527 organizations. The prescription? Ban 527s...and while we're at it, let's go after some of those 501(c) groups, too.
One of the staples of campaign "reform" bills back when I was following them closely was a provision to require contributors to state ballot initiative campaigns to register with and report to the Federal Election Commission. It was a provision aimed right at my old employer, U.S. Term Limits, because of the financial support we provided to such state campaigns. The provisions were inserted on the off-chance that we might one day be successful in limiting congressional terms (close, but no banana).
The current "reforms" are even worse, muzzling speech merely because it might -- just might -- help defeat an incumbent politician.
Oh, the horror!
But I don't look for the old movement for limits to come back any time soon...even though folks like McCain make the case for them far better than I ever did.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 5/02/2006