Friday, November 03, 2006

Campaign finance reform works. Proof: The parties raised and spent more money than ever

The Washington Post declares Victory for CFR laws by hailing the record amounts of cash the parties were able to raise and spend:

Not in 2004, when the parties raised a combined $1.5 billion ($785 million by Republicans, $684 million by Democrats) -- amazingly, more than their hard and soft money combined in any previous election. And not in 2006, the first midterm campaign conducted under the new rules, when the combined party fundraising was $768 million as of mid-October ($438 million by Republicans, $330 million by Democrats), according to a study by the Campaign Finance Institute. The parties, now limited to maximum annual contributions of $26,700 from individuals, haven't recouped all the soft money they once vacuumed up, but they have rebounded far more robustly than anyone had predicted.
Thank God we solved the problem of money in politics. Hooray! Except, way back in the recesses of my feeble brain, I seem to remember that the whole point of CFR was to "get the money out of politics".

The Post, a fervent supporter of McCain-Feingold declares that the money is flowing faster than ever, proof that CFR laws are a rousing success. The only fly in the ointment, according to the Post is the pesky 527's, which can create ads on behalf of the candidates so long as no consultation between the campaign and the 527 occurs.

Is it my incredible grasp of the obvious when I note that this whole CFR issue seems to be a massive bait-and-switch being perpetrated upon us by the reformers of campaign finance? Those of us who criticized CFR laws based on their potential to chill the most important speech of all-- political speech-- were repeatedly told that it wasn't about speech, it was about the money.

The Post now seems to be comfortable with the money, but not so much with what's being said [registration req'd] with it by pesky independent groups. This, to be sure, relates to what the Post deems undesirable speech. This Post commentary cements the fact that Campaign Finance Laws were never about the money, they were about undesirable speech. The Post points to the "more muted role" of the 527's from 2004, to 2006. This is certainly due to the constant legal scrutiny that 527's and now churches face when speaking about a candidate without the direct involvement of the candidate himself. According to the Post, law makers need to get right on the 527 issue, post haste.


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