The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752 and H.R. 1826) was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and in the House of Representatives by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.). The bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want.
Participating candidates seek support from their communities, not Washington, D.C.
Qualified candidates would receive Fair Elections funding in the primary, and if they win, in their general election at a level to run a competitive campaign.
Qualified candidates would be also eligible to receive additional matching Fair Elections funds if they continued to raise small donations from their home state.
Joint fundraising committees between candidates and parties would be prohibited.
Fair Elections helps offset fundraising for, and the excessive cost of, media.
Participating candidates could set up leadership political action committees but would be limited to a $100 contribution limit per individual per year.
The cost of Fair Elections for Senate races would be borne by a small fee on large government contractors and for House races would come from ten percent of revenues generated through the auction of unused broadcast spectrum.
The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency was a transformative moment in American history. Not least in the fact that Obama rekindled progressive hope for change in the way Washington works.
A little more than a year into Obama's presidency and progressive hope is fading because the way Washington works remains the same. We know that, at bottom, many of our aspirations will be met only in part, if at all, without fundamental change.
We recognize that until we release our elected officials from a system that forces them to ignore good sense when there is an opportunity for large campaign cash, we won't have policy that makes sense.
We won't get the changes we want until we accept Teddy Roosevelt's insight that privately funded public elections tend inevitably towards political corruption. And until we solve that eminently solvable problem, we won't make any progress in making America a functionally democratic (with a capital "D")society.
Fix Congress First. Only then will sensible policy be possible.