In The News
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.
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Baltimore County, like most of the speakers at La Fontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie, quoted King and pointed to the need to continue the slain civil rights leader's work and advance his dream.
Domenitz highlighted a reform bill at the federal level that will be re-filed by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, which would offer refundable tax credits to donors in order to incentivize small donations.
Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes’ (D) comments last month come closer to identifying the real problem of a rigged electoral system. “[E]veryday citizens are being left out — almost locked out — of their own democracy,” he says.
"Bringing this bill to the floor just two days into a new session of Congress is more evidence of the stranglehold that Wall Street has on Washington," Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) said. "Do we represent all Americans or just the wealthy and well-connected who would benefit from this legislation?"
Some solutions have already been proposed and, in Lessig’s eyes, could be realistic if taken seriously by more legislators: There’s Rubens’s proposal to implement a “small-dollar voucher” system to fund elections, and another proposal by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes to create a “Freedom From Influence” matching fund that would “multiply the impact of small-dollar donations.”
"It is breathtakingly cynical to give even more power to the wealthy and well-connected on the heels of an election that ushered in a new, dangerous era of big money in politics," stated Rep. John Sarbanes.
Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, whose father, Paul, spent 30 years in the Senate, said it will be "very hard" for Congress to return to the more accommodating practices of his dad's era. He said lawmakers are under relentless pressure to raise campaign money, and when they face a policy question, they wonder, "what would my money patrons think if I were to give ground on this provision?"
"That tends to put members of Congress in a harness," Sarbanes said.