FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

McCutcheon on the Hudson

Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC removed limits on the total amount that rich donors could contribute to all candidates in an electoral cycle. The need for a voluntary system of public campaign financing for candidates to run with no-strings-attached clean money is now greater than ever.

With the recent passage of the state budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders missed an opportunity to enact just such a system. What New Yorkers got was a watered down partial public financing system for Comptroller races only. That minor “reform” does not change the basic picture: New York has the best government money can buy.

The “reform,” based on New York City’s system, throws good public money after bad private money, and was justifiably opposed by Senate Republicans (who have offered no alterative to the corruption-inducing status quo). It is inferior to the partial public financing system in place in New York City because it has no limits on the amount of private money a candidate may spend. The New York City system caps private spending for candidates who opt for public financing at the same level as the maximum public grant they can receive.

The “reform” does nothing to halt the Governor’s voracious gobbling of contributions from the super rich (who are amply rewarded with tax cuts in the budget). Forty-five percent of his re-election campaign fund came from donations of $40,000 or more, eighty percent from donations of $10,000 or more, and less than one percent from donations of under $1,000. Does anybody believe that the last minute pro charter school changes in the state budget had nothing to do with the nearly $400,000 in donations to Cuomo from hedge fund operators who are board members of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy and the $5 million attack ad campaign against Mayor de Blasio by a pro charter PAC funded by billionaires?

Watered down partial public financing is akin to presidential primary matching funds: a reform that doesn’t reform. It is the campaign finance reform equivalent of Obamacare (compared to Medicare for All, Obamacare does too little to meet the health care needs of millions of Americans, and nothing at all for millions more who neither qualify for it nor for Medicaid). And like Obamacare, it makes genuine reform—real progress—harder to achieve as advocates for genuine change will be told ‘we did campaign finance reform; go away.’

New Yorkers deserve better. If we could start from scratch—with the aim of eliminating pay-to-play and other corrupt practices—what might a redesigned campaign funding system look like? We’re confident that it would appear identical to the systems in place in Maine and Arizona, also known as Clean Money, Clean Elections.

Clean Money provides full public financing for qualified candidates, removes “dirty” private money, tightens financial reporting, applies equally to all political parties, and mandates that candidates who receive public campaign funding participate in debates. In Arizona and Maine, candidates qualify for equal public campaign grants by raising a reasonable number of $5 contributions from voters in their district to demonstrate support. The $5 donations go to the state’s Clean Money Fund. The grants are sufficient to get the candidate’s message to all voters. Candidates who opt for public money may not raise private money. They only use clean public money.

Supporters of partial public financing will likely accuse us of having the ‘perfect be the enemy of the good.’ ‘This is the best Albany can do, you’re asking too much; be realistic.’ Nonsense. Arizona is more progressive than New York? Were the supporters of pseudo-reform to level with New Yorkers, to sponsor a genuine, open debate on the competing proposals, Clean Money would win hands down.

Fortunately for New Yorkers, there is a Clean Money bill in both the Assembly (A4116-2013) and the Senate (S4501-2013). Ask your legislators to press for hearings, debate and votes on these bills. New Yorkers deserve no less.

Howie Hawkins was the Green candidate for New York Governor in 2010 and is seeking the Green nomination in 2014. 

Steve Breyman is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 18, 2019
Timothy M. Gill
Bernie Sanders, Anti-Imperialism and Venezuela
W. T. Whitney
Cuba and a New Generation of Leaders Respond to U.S. Anti-People War
Jonathan Cook
How the Goliath of the Jerusalem Settler Movement Persuaded the World It’s Really David
William Hartung
Merger Mania: the Military-Industrial Complex on Steroids
John G. Russell
The Devolution Will Be Televised: Our Body-cam President
Judith Deutsch
Psychology Stories: Children
Dean Baker
The Coal Industry is Not a Major Employer
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Gangster: Adani’s Pursuit of Scientists
Thomas Knapp
National Polls Don’t Mean Much. Here’s Why.
Thomas Mountain
Africans Solving African Problems; Bringing Peace to Sudan
Ann Garrison
History Is Happening: WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate
Elliot Sperber
Don’t Open the Door 
July 17, 2019
Manuel García, Jr.
Ye Cannot Swerve Me: Moby-Dick and Climate Change
Charles Pierson
Sofi’s Choice
Gary Leupp
Epstein, Jane Doe, and Trump
Rebecca Gordon
I Had an Abortion and Now I’m Not Ashamed
Peter Bolton
In the US and Brazil, Two Trends Underline the Creeping Fascism of Both Governments
Michael Kidder
“Go Back Where You Came From:” an Episode From Canada
Steve Early - Rand Wilson
How Big Strike 30 Years Ago Aided Fight for Single Payer
John W. Whitehead
Sexual Predators in the Power Elite
Michael Welton
Teach the Children Well: the Unrealized Vision In Teaching and Learning in the Residential Schools
Khury Petersen-Smith
Iran’s Not the Aggressor, the US Is
Russell Mokhiber
Kip Sullivan and Dr. Matthew Hahn on How Value Based Programs Are Undermining Medicare and Single Payer
George Ochenski
A Fearless and Free Press is Essential to Our Democracy
Lawrence Wittner
Billionaires and American Politics
Dean Baker
Cheap Shots at the Trump Economy
July 16, 2019
Conn Hallinan
The World Needs a Water Treaty
Kenneth Surin
Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador
Christopher Ketcham
This Land Was Your Land
Gary Leupp
What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Democratic Virtues in Electing a President
Thomas Knapp
Free Speech Just isn’t That Complicated
Binoy Kampmark
The Resigning Ambassador
Howard Lisnoff
Everybody Must Get Stoned
Nicky Reid
Nukes For Peace?
Matt Johnson
The United States of Overreaction
Cesar Chelala
Children’s Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Martin Billheimer
Sylvan Shock Theater
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail