More Campaign Spending From More People

• Feb 15, 2015

The Atlantic By: Lee Drutman

In the five years since the Citizens United decision, the campaign-finance reform movement has worked its way through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and now, finally, acceptance.

This emerging state of acceptance is making room for some new approaches: What if America stops focusing on containment, and starts focusing on empowerment? What if America stops focusing on limits, and starts focusing on opportunities?

Representative John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland, has been grappling with these questions. His idea: Pass a bill that will solve two related problems—voter cynicism and the influence of special interest money—with one set of reforms. First, give every citizen a $25 “My Voice” tax credit (if you contribute $25 to a campaign, you get $25 off your tax bill). Next, create a 6-to-1 “Freedom from Influence” matching fund (for every $1 you spend, the government kicks in $6 in public funding). Then watch political fundraising change for the better.

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