Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Time to Deliver

Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Time to Deliver

Article excerpt

"The work of change, frankly, will never get any, easier until we limit the influence of well-financed interests who profit from this current system. So I also must now call on you to finish the job both houses began last year, by passing tough and meaningful campaign finance reform and lobby reform legislation this year."

President Bill Clinton State of the Union Speech

January 25, 1994

President Clinton's first year in office taught him firsthand the clout of special interests. In 1992 congressional candidates across the country promised to make big changes in the way business is done in Washington. In 1993 not one of the critical reforms reached the president's desk.

In 1994 Congress again has the opportunity to act. It is time to deliver.

The campaign finance bills passed by the House and Senate last year contain significant reforms and have problem provisions. But the strongest elements of the two bills could be combined into legislation that would make a major change in the campaign money chase (see page 35).

Several factors are working in favor of change in 1994. Public disgust at the mingling of money and politics is growing. And some committed representatives and senators have risked their colleagues' wrath by pushing reforms forward.

In addition to the real importance of separating legislative decisions from the money that seeks to influence them, there is another critical reason for the House and Senate to pass a strong and credible campaign finance reform bill -- the need to reestablish public trust in our democratic institutions.

Representatives and senators return to Washington from their home states bewildered by the anger and hostility directed at Congress. A recent poll put the approval rating for Congress at just 29 percent. Other polls indicate that Americans believe lobbyists and big campaign contributors exert too much influence over elected officials.

Public attitudes are reaching the dangerous point where concern about the integrity of Congress is creating cynicism about Congress's ability to address any problem effectively.

Common Cause was founded on the principle that an individual can make a difference. Central to the history and mission of this organization has been encouraging citizens to take responsibility for making government work better, because what the government does is important.

As a nation, we face challenges that require creative policy approaches and difficult decisions regarding limited resources and conflicting public priorities. Reaching the best possible outcome of tho choices requires a citizenry that is actively engaged in the policy process, not one that throws up its hands and turns away altogether. …

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