Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Seize the Moment: It's Time for Congress and Clinton to Deliver on Campaign Finance Reform

Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Seize the Moment: It's Time for Congress and Clinton to Deliver on Campaign Finance Reform

Article excerpt

It's time for Congress and Clinton to deliver on campaign finance reform.

Not since the founding days of Common Cause 22 years ago have we witnessed as powerful a public mood for change in Washington as we see now. And not since those early years have we faced as great an opportunity to advance the Common Cause agenda in a dramatic way.

President Clinton sought and won the presidency on a message of change. A key part of his message was that, as president, he would change the way business is done in Washington and clean up the system. President Clinton reiterated this theme in his inaugural address:

"To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. ... And so I say to all of us here, let us resolve to reform our politics, so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. ... Let us give this capital back to the people to whom it belongs."

President Clinton's strong public support of campaign finance reform and his promise to push for early action, combined with the majority of House and Senate members who are publicly on record in support of real reform, puts us within reach of making a dramatic change in Washington's culture of influence money.

But precisely because we are on the threshold of reform, opponents are marshaling their significant resources to block change.

Special interest political action committees (PACs) are fighting to maintain the influence with Congress that their campaign contributions provide. Political party leaders are resisting efforts to shut down the soft money system that funnels huge contributions into federal elections in evasion of federal anti-corruption laws. Incumbents of both parties, in both houses of Congress, are resisting reforms that will reduce their built-in financial advantages over challengers.

Republican opponents in the Senate are threatening to resort to an obstructionist filibuster to block campaign finance reform from coming up for a vote.

And in the House, there continues to be resistance to change, as a January New York Times editorial notes: "Just when Americans thought they had voted for campaign finance reform, the Democratic congressional leadership is warming to its old stalls and dodges. …

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