Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should Soft Money Be Banned?

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should Soft Money Be Banned?

Article excerpt

Critics say it corrupts politics; defenders call it free speech


Campaign finance reform isn't just about money. It's about what gets done on Capitol Hill and what doesn't. Soft money--gifts from special-interest groups that current law doesn't limit because they're not used in direct support of a candidate for office--is gumming up the works.

For example, nearly everyone agrees that Congress should enact prescription-drug coverage for the elderly. But during the past election cycle, the pharmaceutical and health-products industries rained $15.7 million in soft money down on the parties to protect their outrageous profit margins.

We've seen little progress on this issue, and the gridlock isn't limited to health care. Prospects for cleaner air and cleaner waterways are in jeopardy because polluters have purchased outsized clout through outsized soft-money donations. And with more than a little help from its soft-money machine, the National Rifle Association continues to block common-sense measures to protect young people from gun violence.

The bill I have introduced in the House of Representatives with Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) would--like the McCain-Feingold bill that the Senate has passed--put the people's work back on the front burner in Congress by banning these soft-money contributions.

The House should vote yes on our bill. Campaign finance reform is the key to a better America today and tomorrow.


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