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house Bill H. Joint Res. 126

Should There Be a Mandatory Public Campaign Finance System?

Argument in favor

The Citizens United decision allowed an influx of corporate money into elections, making politics a game in which whomever has the most cash wins and making public policy beholden to corporate interests. Overturning Citizens United will lower the cost of elections and restore political power to voters.

Bobbi's Opinion
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11/06/2018
This is one of the few things that could save our democracy from extremists.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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11/07/2018
Our representatives “ought to be dependent on the people alone.” -Federalist No. 52 James Madison February 8, 1788. Corporations and superPACs are not people. They cannot bleed or die or mourn. They are constructs. Constructs can’t vote and have no business donating money to politics.
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Adam's Opinion
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11/06/2018
This amendment is ESSENTIAL to ensuring a free and fair democracy. American democracy is currently caught in a feedback loop of corruption and apathy. The corruption has its own feedback loop between lawmakers and special interests.
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Argument opposed

Citizens United was a good decision by the Supreme Court that was correctly argued, and should be upheld as settled case law. The route to reform campaign finance is not to overturn Citizens United, but rather to change people’s minds and mobilize them to vote against big money.

Donna 's Opinion
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11/06/2018
I AM 100% in FAVOR of CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION TRANSPARENCY and I inadvertently pushed bay when I should have pushed YEA
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Steven's Opinion
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11/06/2018
It’s amazing how Democrats want to change things when they lose.
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Richard's Opinion
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11/06/2018
Government cannot regulate those who would change it. Inherently government will always try to maintain the status quo. IE: The prevalence of gerrymandering when states are required to realign voting districts.
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What is House Bill H. Joint Res. 126?

This joint resolution would propose a Constitutional amendment establishing that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions to political campaigns don’t qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment. It would also charge Congress with establishing a public financing system to serve as the sole source of funding for federal elections.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, this resolution would have to pass both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds vote and be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states) to amend the Constitution and take effect.

Impact

Political campaign funding; corporate political donors; large individual political donors; elections; the Constitution.

Cost of House Bill H. Joint Res. 126

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced this Constitutional amendment to get money out of politics by overturning key elements of recent Supreme Court decisions that have opened the floodgates for unlimited individual and special interest spending to influence political campaigns:

“With huge sums of money pouring into our election system cycle after cycle, the American people are losing their basic fundamental right to meaningful and fair representation in government. Elections, referendums, and ballot initiatives are being bought and sold to the highest bidders, with anonymous donors and deceivingly-named special interest groups willing to lie, cheat, and steal to win out. We’ll never be able to tackle the important issues that the public rightly demands from its elected officials until we restore the principles of our democracy and put people back in power. That is why I am introducing this Constitutional Amendment and look forward to continuing to fight to ensure a basic level of honesty and integrity in our electoral system.”

Michael Kinsley, writing in Vanity Fair, argues that Citizens United shouldn’t be overturned, as it was a good decision by the Court:

“[Y]ou can't easily amend your way out of the problems raised by Citizens United, as you can the problems raised by, say, the Second Amendment: Citizens United, unlike the Second Amendment, is not an out-of-date decision that needs to be rehabbed. It was a good decision. It was correctly decided. It is not in there by historical accident. It should not be reversed. The proper way to ‘fix ’the problem that many people see is to change people's minds, not to change the Constitution, which would require inserting language into the First Amendment that directly violates First Amendment values. First Amendment values say that if you want a more ‘level playing field’ you must raise the low ground. You can't level the playing field by lowering the high ground. And the whole problem might be solved by Stein's Law (named for the late economist Herb Stein): ‘If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.’ If enough people are enraged enough by the imbalance of political power caused by money, they will vote against big money, which will turn it into a negative.”

The Cato Institute’s Edward H. Crane argues that it’s wrong to use taxpayer money to fund political campaigns:

“Taxpayer funding of political campaigns is wrong for a fundamental reason: In a free society, people are not forced to give their money to support political activity they would otherwise not support. It’s that simple. As Thomas Jefferson put it, ‘To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical’... Taxpayer funding, itself wrong on moral grounds, also would result in political careerists qualifying for the funding while outsiders and potential citizen legislators are turned down. And they wouldn’t even be allowed to raise funds privately… Ultimately, the problem isn’t spending, in any event. We spend less than $10 per eligible voter per election cycle for every office in the land-from dogcatcher to president. The problem is the power of the federal government. Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt.” That’s why the Founders set up a system of very limited federal power. Taxpayer funding of campaigns Will enhance federal power and corruption. Open, vigorous, privately funded campaigns are our best hope for reducing the burden of the federal government on the American People.”

This resolution has the support of four cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. Rep. Yarmuth first introduced this amendment in 2011 as a bipartisan bill with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC).


Of Note: In a 5-4 decision in January 2010, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of federal election law, allowing corporations to spend general treasury funds for communications that advocate for the election or defeat of a specific candidate. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court determined that a ban on these expenditures violates the First Amendment.

After Citizens United, a 2014 Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC overturned aggregate limits, allowing a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to political parties and candidates’ campaigns.

Together, Citizens United and McCutchen v. FEC have led to unprecedented outside spending on political campaigns and decreased accountability and transparency. In 2010’s midterm elections, outside groups spent four times (+427%) more than they did in 2006’s midterm elections. In 2016, super PACs and other outside groups spent over $1.3 billion to influence that year’s elections — and that figure is a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t include political spending that goes unreported due to disclosure loopholes. Since there aren’t any disclosure requirements on corporate “persons,” much of this money’s origins is opaque, and the public doesn’t know where it comes from.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / artpipi)

Official Title

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures with respect to Federal elections.

joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 19th, 2018
    This is one of the few things that could save our democracy from extremists.
    Like (12)
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    Our representatives “ought to be dependent on the people alone.” -Federalist No. 52 James Madison February 8, 1788. Corporations and superPACs are not people. They cannot bleed or die or mourn. They are constructs. Constructs can’t vote and have no business donating money to politics.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    This amendment is ESSENTIAL to ensuring a free and fair democracy. American democracy is currently caught in a feedback loop of corruption and apathy. The corruption has its own feedback loop between lawmakers and special interests.
    Like (9)
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    It would force people to run on policy and hopefully have repercussions for people and organizations located within America that seek to subvert the electorate with dark money.
    Like (6)
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    Transparency is needed.
    Like (5)
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    Yes eliminate special interest
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    Freedom of speech is protected but the campaigns in our state have been mostly lies about candidates. Hard to believe one Supreme Court ruling led to these tactics.
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    I AM 100% in FAVOR of CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION TRANSPARENCY and I inadvertently pushed bay when I should have pushed YEA
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    Politics shouldn't have anything to do with how much money the politician makes or can raise while they are running, that has nothing to do with how to run a country... Is running a country the same as running around state to state trying to get corporations or private people to donate to your cause of bullshit you probably can't deliver on because politics is more complicated than most people want to believe? No, that makes zero sense. That's like, running laps around the gym will make your hair grow. No, crazy, you're just getting beast legs lol. It's time we stop making a mockery of our own system and start letting our system be truly by the people for the people.
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    Let’s end corruption with this amendment,
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    Yup...
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    Money in politics is clearly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, issue preventing our country from moving forward. When politicians are legally bribed through campaign contributions they no longer work for the people. This has been the status quo for quite some time and it is no longer acceptable
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    i would be all for a constitutional amendment that would force political contributions of large amounts to be able to follow the money.
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    Let’s stop corporate sponsorship of our elected officials
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    Giving financial contributions obviously has the appearance of corruption at a minimum. The fact that the Supreme Court says otherwise also has the appearance of corruption and any of them that voted money is speech should be investigated for receiving "speech" from the rich and from corporations.
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    Get money out of politics
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    Only if all money going to politicians and parties are totally open to the Public and all contributes can only give a fixed amount of money to party or candidate
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    The “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision was undoubtedly the most one of the most ominous setbacks to our democratic process in the 21st century. The election process must have the highest legal protection in the land. The government should therefore be able to fund its own elections and campaigns without the meddling created by outside contributions.
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    Allow citizens to make contributions and get rid of the PAC contributions.
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    Overturn Citizens United!
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