H.R.1826 - Fair Elections Now Act

To reform the financing of House elections, and for other purposes. view all titles (2)

All Bill Titles

  • Official: To reform the financing of House elections, and for other purposes. as introduced.
  • Short: Fair Elections Now Act as introduced.

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Displaying 1-30 of 42 total comments.

  • mkail666 01/11/2010 5:05am

    I would like to see some actual comments as to why so many people support this bill. From what I understand this “Fair Election System” would be optional. In some cases a candidate would be better off not opting into this system. If all candidates did opt into this system, the matching payments would increase the disparity between them, not reduce it. Also, the language in this bill does not guarantee matching funds to all willing participants (i.e. third parties) and the requirements for qualification could be hard to meet by even Republicans and Democrats.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 01/25/2010 7:48pm

    I think people support this because everyone is worried that Congress pays more attention to its big donors than to the voters. The left and right are worried about different deep pockets buying up the government, and that fear is not unfounded. If the system were mandatory, its supporters would probably like it even more. (I would.)

    The things you mention—the disparity caused by matching funds, the potential for 3rd parties to lose on funds—are all better options than having a corporation or other group with a billion dollars campaigning against your preferred candidate. At least this way candidates get money by making it onto the ballot and getting people to trust them enough hand over $50. If a candidate earns twice as much money as their opponent and gets a boost from the matching funds, then perhaps they earned it. Or perhaps they’re just better at BS, but it beats having them pick up $5 million in a backroom deal.

    This way they come back to the people for more money.

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/26/2010 2:01pm

    “…but it beats having them pick up $5 million in a backroom deal.”

    I think we should instead work on prosecuting the recipients of this sort of bribery.

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    spender 01/26/2010 6:08pm

    “I think we should instead work on prosecuting the recipients of this sort of bribery.”

    That would be my preferred way of handling it too. But when every politician insists that the contributions they receive don’t affect their votes (even though the stats suggest that they do); and when everyone in a position to begin prosecutions is either an elected official, an appointed official chosen by an elected official, or a subordinate of one of the two; and when our entire government is stuck in this system of pleasing donors with votes so no one considers it bribery in the first place; prosecutions would be impossible.

    Basically, like the best criminal conspiracies, this system is documented, public and legal. As such, we need a new way of doing things.

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/28/2010 4:18pm

    The ‘services’ of a bought Congressperson wouldn’t be quite as valuable on the ‘market’ if the federal government wasn’t akin to Cthulu with enormous tentacles slithering this way and that, interposing themselves in the private lives of every living (or dead?) citizen. How about we enforce Constitutional limits of power instead of new creative legislation to attempt (and likely fail) to right every wrong? A smaller and significantly less-powerful federal government (as originally intended) would offer far less opportunity for mayhem. A bought legislator in a weak government is just that.

    “As such, we need a new way of doing things.”

    So said the Bolsheviks. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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    spender 01/30/2010 12:59pm

    You make it sound like the federal government is the only thing that can have power over us. If the federal government were made weak and impotent, buying a Congressperson would likely not be worthwhile, but buying a state Senator would, and we’d have the same corruption problem. If the state government were made weak as well, the power would shift to the local governments. If they were weakened, the power would fall into the hands of those who physically own the nation’s capital who, conveniently enough, are the same people who this law is aimed at.

    As individuals we always find ourselves under someone’s authority. Faced with this some people dream of increasing their capital and using it to exert their wills over others and be free of regulation. That’s the law of the jungle: The strong are free and do as they please. I prefer taking power away from unaccountable individuals and vest it instead in a body based on rules that I have some control over. That’s the law of civilization.

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    nmeagent 01/31/2010 1:57pm

    States have their own constitutions which apply, as I’ve already said. Is it far fetched to see an emphasis on federal issues in a site discussing the activities of the federal Congress?

    All levels of government should be weakened to the point that they are only capable of performing their correct function: to protect the rights of individuals. The vast majority of power rightfully belongs in the hands of individuals; we own ourselves and the products of our time and energy. Our rights should only end where another’s begin and vice versa. This is not the ‘law of the jungle’; it is liberty!

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    spender 02/04/2010 6:29pm

    I disagree that the only purpose of government is to protect the people’s liberties. I also disagree that only the “vast majority of power” belongs to the people. I would say that all the power belongs to the people, and that government is (or should be) the people’s tool to wield power for democratically directed goals.

    I don’t want power to be wielded solely by individuals who have no obligation to consider what effects their actions may have on others. Being subjected to the power of others, without having the ability to seek redress for any wrongs, is authoritarian; it’s the definition of the law of the jungle.

    Besides securing basic liberties, government must allow the people to manage society democratically. If government becomes a power unto itself, it will manage society dictatorially. But if properly democratic, it’s far better than the capriciousness of 300 million individual authoritarian powers.

    But I’m a socialist, you’re a libertarian, so we argue. C’est la vie.

  • Comm_reply
    ACDoty 02/09/2010 10:32pm

    Please listen to Lawrence Lessig at the following link:

    http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/page/invite/chronicleIV?source=message&utm_source=message&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20100209

  • KaiserKuchen 01/11/2010 9:24am

    I support this bill because it is a step in the right direction. The bill is not perfect, not that any bill is, but it is important. I have read it and went to the committee hearing in DC in July for this bill. As I understand it, if you can get the minimum required signatures you will be eligible for funding. If your opponent does not participate in the system, the system will fund you more to make it a fairer race. Plus, if I’m running under this system and my opponent isn’t, it gives me something to bring up in debates/ads. I can say hey look I’m here working for the people while my opponent is working for these special interests. True or not, you could bring that up. That is how political ads work anyway.

  • nmeagent 01/21/2010 2:23pm

    Beware of any bill with the word “fair” in the title — more often than not it will be anything but. I oppose this bill on general principle. I don’t think public money of any kind should be used to fund anyone’s campaign.

  • Mazeman 01/25/2010 3:43am
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    + -1

    We need a bill like this now more than ever after The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission 1-21-10. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent against the ruling, “the court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.”

  • nmeagent 01/25/2010 12:52pm

    Where does the federal government derive any authority to be involved in the funding of political campaigns at all? This is not a power enumerated in the Constitution. We shouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    You may perhaps think bills like this are a ‘good idea’, but that really doesn’t enter into it. The federal government is restricted to its enumerated powers; anything else is not legal (and yes — this means at least 2/3 of what the government is doing is illegal). If you wish to regulate campaign finances then attempt to pass such a bill at the state level.

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/25/2010 12:53pm

    I should have said ‘regulate or provide for a publicly funded alternative to private sector funding’ instead of just ‘regulate’.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 01/25/2010 7:16pm

    Well, Article I, Section IV says:

    “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and
    Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;
    but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except
    as to the Place of Choosing Senators.”

    The question then becomes how do you define the “Manner.” It’s an unfortunately vague word.

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/26/2010 1:58pm
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    + -1

    Political advertisements and other communications related to the election are not part of the election itself. Article I section IV would apply to the regulations involving the actual holding of the election, as in how the votes are counted, regulations within the physical confines of a voting location, etc.

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    spender 01/26/2010 5:44pm

    “Political advertisements and other communications related to the election are not part of the election itself.”

    Aren’t they? I would say that candidates informing the voters about their positions, and about how these positions differ from those of the other candidates, seems like a vitally important part of an election.

    While I agree that having a uniform method of tallying and counting votes is definitely an aspect of the “manner” of holding elections, so are the rules for how one gets onto the ballot, and the restrictions for where and when a candidate can campaign. Why rules regulating or providing campaign funds should be any different, I can’t imagine. The Constitution says nothing about paying poll workers; the federal and state governments passed laws to organize that as part of their regulation of the manner of elections. Same principle.

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    nmeagent 01/28/2010 3:48pm
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    + -1

    Just to be clear, I’m only talking about the federal government and not the states.

    Congress may regulate elections, yes, but they may not infringe on the rights protected by the Bill of Rights in doing so. The 1st Amendment explicitly says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech”. This pretty much destroys any legitimacy of so called federal campaign-finance reform laws which, among other things, regulate the purchase and delivery of a form of protected speech.

    I would also argue that Congressional authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of Congressional elections is limited in scope to their actual time, places, and manner. The intent of the Constitution was to limit the scope and power of the federal government; it is absurd to suggest in the case of Congressional elections that their authority extends to every peripheral subject upon which it touches.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 01/30/2010 12:32pm

    Laws capping political donations don’t violate the 1st amendment any more than the FCC does. The government is fully able to regulate the manner in which people communicate, provided that it doesn’t regulate the content of the communications (and even that isn’t absolute) or prevent communication from happening.

    If the $100 cap were to apply to only Democrats and Republicans, and the law were to mandate a $50 cap on donations to all other parties’ candidates, that would violate the 1st amendment. But a straight $100 donation cap would not.

    Also, the Constitution was NOT designed to limit the scope of the federal government. It CREATED the federal government out of a decentralized confederacy. It was written by people who looked at the states’ power in the US confederacy and concluded that this country needed centralized authority strong enough to compel the states obedience. It was not a limit on governmental power, it was a deliberate and vast expansion of governmental power.

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/31/2010 12:43pm
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    + -1

    Caps on monetary contributions don’t violate the first amendment. However, the federal government doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to regulate such. The federal government DOES regulate what sorts of political ads can be broadcast close to an election, which DOES violate the first amendment. The FCC DOES violate the first amendment on a daily basis by enforcing so called “public decency” standards. I also believe the FCC doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to regulate the frequency spectrum, while we’re talking about them.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 01/31/2010 2:18pm

    The problem with your argument is that your point of view on political ads and the FCC have not been supported by the Supreme Court. The FCC has existed for 70 years, and in that time the Court has neither dissolved it nor prohibited it from enforcing decency standards. Now you may have problems with the FCC and its policies—I have some problems with the FCC and its policies—but determinations of constitutionality are not up to you or me. They’re up to the Supreme Court.

    Now you may not like the fact that judicial review is not explicitly granted to the Supreme Court in the Constitution, or that the Court basically just gave itself the power in 1803, but by the accepted interpretation of the Constitution it’s legal, and decisions of constitutionality are the Court’s. Your strict constructionalist view can and should affect your support for any proposed laws, but you can’t insist it’s the only legal viewpoint. 200 years of history have said otherwise.

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    nmeagent 01/31/2010 4:12pm
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    + -1

    I’m not saying it’s the only legal viewpoint, but in my opinion it’s the only valid legal viewpoint. The precedent supporting these laws during the 30s and 40s was legally dubious and basically a concession from the court to avoid Roosevelt’s thinly veiled threat to pack the court. They are ripe to be overturned.

    The Supreme Court does not have the last word, by the way. The feds might get away with passing whatever they like, but enforcement is another matter altogether. Many states have passed laws nullifying the Real ID act, federal firearms laws (for those manufactured in state and never leaving that state), and the prohibition against medical (or otherwise) marijuana. Simple civil disobedience is another option; keep in mind that there are tens of millions of us who will never submit. We’ll see who wins.

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    nmeagent 01/31/2010 12:43pm
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    + -1

    “Also, the Constitution was NOT designed to limit the scope of the federal government.”

    Excuse me? Perhaps you can explain to me the existence of the 9th and 10th amendments then, seeing as how they do exactly that. Hell, the Bill of Rights flies in the face of that ridiculous statement.

    Yes, the Constitution created a FEDERAL government out of a decentralized confederacy. A FEDERAL government absolutely limited to specific enumerated powers, everything else granted to the states and/or the people. I’m beginning to think you may not have read it and are generally unfamiliar with the history of the period. Either that or you’re just being disingenuous.

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    spender 01/31/2010 3:02pm

    The Federalists worried that the Articles of Confederation was too weak, that the US would be torn apart through civil war (Shays’ Rebellion was often cited), and that individual states lacked the power or respect to keep the US safe from attack or foreign influence. They also worried about the lack of central authority over the states. In the Federalist #21 Hamilton wrote, “The United States, as now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish disobedience to their resolutions…”

    The Constitution changed this with a powerful central government. Anti-Federalists feared the powers of the new government, so the Bill of Rights was drafted as a compromise. The fact that the Bill of Rights was seen as necessary should be plenty of evidence for how powerful the founders intended the federal government to be. At the time they saw the Constitution as being so strong that, unless it was restricted from abolishing even basic rights and due process, it had the power to do so.

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    nmeagent 01/31/2010 4:30pm

    I would say they wanted a more powerful central government, not an all powerful central government. Both camps were still leery of a powerful central government such as the British crown, from which they had spent quite a lot of time and lives separating. Even without the Bill of Rights, the Constitution already contained significant limitations on the power of the federal government. If they had unchecked central power in mind, why did they construct three coequal branches of government with specific enumerated powers? Why did they allow states to continue to appoint their senators? Why require the states to agree to amendments instead of just allowing Congress to pass them as any other bill? Hell, why not establish a monarchy and be done with it?

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    nmeagent 01/31/2010 4:31pm

    Both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists wanted a limited government, it was just a question of degree. The Anti-Federalists were a little less naive, however, and so we some of the amendments they proposed as part of the Bill of Rights. Apparently even that wasn’t enough

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    spender 02/04/2010 4:36pm

    I would say that the primary limits on government the Constitution’s authors were concerned with involved preventing any individual or group from taking over the government. (Also, the states wanted to maintain some autonomy and keep themselves from being railroaded by other states.) You’re also right that they were looking at the English monarchy as the model for what not to do in government. That’s what is meant by “limited government.”

    Remember that from the start, the Constitution’s authors knew that they would be the ones running the government. They wanted to ensure that whichever branch they ended up in, they would have power with regard to the other 2, and that a future rival wouldn’t one day become emperor and start cutting off heads.

    Our “limited government” is designed to protect republican institutions and balance power between the branches to stave of dictatorship. The idea that it means government can’t regulate the public or business is nonsense.

  • snarlbuckle 01/26/2010 3:38am

    I personally find this bill unfair. Unless I have read it incorrectly, it seems to favor those that are in office and not the competition. It is currently hard enough for a new candidate to replace an entrenched congressmen, let alone when congress spends government money without having to campaign as much. This bill tips an already skewed scale in my opinion, and I am not in favor.

  • missliberty 01/29/2010 8:14am

    I have to wonder what the founding fathers would think about the lobbyists in Washington. Did you know that the only reason that Congressmen were ever paid a salary was so that poor people could serve if elected? The positions occupied by the Senators and Represenatives were supposed to be positions of honor and were to be undertaken as a service to our country. Why should these people receive any more money that those people that risk their lives everyday in the Armed Forces?
    I don’t know about you, but I am fed up. I believe that campaign contributions should only come from individuals and be limited to $5000. end of story. The Senators, Representatives and Justices should be reminded that they are on OUR PAYROLL! I like Obama’s idea to publish information about who is meeting with who in Washington. If you own your own business don’t you keep tabs on your employees?

  • Comm_reply
    nmeagent 01/29/2010 1:22pm
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    + -2

    All campaign contributions already come from individuals, though indirectly in many cases. Corporations and other organizations are all owned or controlled by individuals, they don’t have minds of their own.


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