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Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) has been grappling with these questions. His idea: pass a bill that will solve two related problems—voter cynicism and the influence of special interest money—with one set of reforms. First, give every citizen a $25 “My Voice” tax credit (if you contribute $25 to a campaign, you get $25 off your tax bill). Next, create a 6-to-1 “Freedom from Influence” matching fund (for every $1 you spend, the government kicks in $6 in public funding). Then watch political fundraising change for the better.
Sarbanes told ThinkProgress that his childhood summers spent crabbing, fishing and exploring the Chesapeake Bay made reintroducing the NCLI act personal for him.
“I grew up feeling like the Bay and the environment were something that were really part of who I was, of who I am, and so the idea of being able to connect young people to the outdoors…to build environmental education into instructional opportunities – was something irresistible to me,” he said.
Imagine if we could take the New Hampshire people-powered approach nationwide, with candidates visiting diners and coffee shops with everyday people and listening to their priorities – all because average citizens would have the power to fund candidates’ campaigns.
That’s the promise of a small-donor matching system.
Sarbanes, whose district includes the Under Armour headquarters, pointed to the company's advances in digital fitness and health, with the recently announced acquisitions of apps MyFitnessPal and Endomondo. He called such moves "a prime example of how American companies are successfully innovating in and adapting to, our 21st-century economy."
As we move past the fifth anniversary of Citizens United, can we begin to think fresh about the influence of money in politics and how to strengthen the voice of ordinary citizens in democracy? Please join New America and the Brennan Center for Justice on February 5 for a discussion of a new framework for revitalizing American democracy based on the idea of political opportunity, with a keynote by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, lead sponsor of the Government By the People Act, followed by a panel discussion including Ann M. Ravel, Chair of the Federal Election Commission.
The spending projections from the Koch network has been a topic of discussion among members at the retreat, but rather than nervousness, “it is generating a combination of anger and determination,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), a leading advocate of campaign finance reform. “There’s no question that it’s a daunting scenario that looms before us. But on the other hand, it’s deeply offensive not just to the public, but to us when you’re serving the public this notion that you can buy democracy with million dollar checks in a backroom.”
Rep. Sarbanes expressed the need to level the election playing field, to ensure that "the priorities and concerns of the people will once again find expression in the public policy that comes out of Washington." Sarbanes is reportedly one of only 5 congressional members who did not take PAC money last year.
There is another way to dilute big money’s influence. We can set up a small-donor fundraising system to compete with today’s big-money politics. That’s the idea behind H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. Under this proposal, Americans would receive a “My Voice” Tax Credit for small-donor political contributions, giving them the means to participate in the funding of campaigns. For candidates that agree to voluntary contribution limits, H.R. 20 would boost small donations with a matching fund, giving everyday citizens a voice that competes with that of the wealthy donors.
The growing movement against the Citizens United ruling has spread from political rallies to the halls of Congress. In February 2014, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced a bill to Congress called the “Government By the People Act,” which aims “to make everyday Americans just as powerful as big-money campaign donors.”
Although the Supreme Court has ruled against laws that limit political spending, there is another way to dilute big money's influence.
We can set up a small-donor fundraising system to compete with today's big-money politics. That's the idea behind H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. Under this proposal, Americans would receive a "My Voice" Tax Credit for small-donor political contributions, giving them the means to participate in the funding of campaigns.