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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 97

Campaign Finance Reform

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14 September 1999


1999 Ron Paul 97:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, campaign finance reform is once again being painted as the solution to political corruption in Washington. Indeed, political corruption is a problem, but today’s reformers hardly offer a solution. The real problem is that government has too much influence over our economy and lives, creating a tremendous incentive to protect one’s own interests by ‘investing’ in politicians. The problem is not a lack of federal laws, or rules regulating campaign spending, therefore more laws won’t help. We hardly suffer from too much freedom. Any effort to solve the campaign finance problem with more laws will only make things worse by further undermining the principles of liberty and private property ownership.

1999 Ron Paul 97:2
The reformers are sincere in their effort to curtail special interest influence on government, but this cannot be done while ignoring the control government has assumed over our lives and economy. Current reforms address only the symptoms while the root cause of the problem is ignored. Since reform efforts involve regulating political speech through control of political money, personal liberty is compromised. Tough enforcement of spending rules will merely drive the influence underground since the stakes are too high and much is to be gained by exerting influence over government — legal or not. The more open and legal campaign expenditures are, with disclosure, the easier it is for voters to know who’s buying influence from whom.

1999 Ron Paul 97:3
There’s tremendous incentive for every special interest group to influence government. Every individual, bank or corporation that does business with government invests plenty in influencing government. Lobbyists spend over a hundred million dollars per month trying to influence Congress. Taxpayers dollars are endlessly spent by bureaucrats in their effort to convince Congress to protect their own empires. Government has tremendous influence over the economy, and financial markets through interest rate controls, contracts, regulations, loans, and grants. Corporations and others are ‘forced’ to participate in the process out of greed as well as self-defense — since that’s the way the system works. Equalizing competition and balancing power such as between labor and business is a common practice. As long as this system remains in place, the incentive to buy influence will continue.

1999 Ron Paul 97:4
Many reformers recognize this and either like the system or believe that it’s futile to bring about changes and argue that curtailing influence is the only option left even if it involves compromising the liberty of political speech through regulating political money.

1999 Ron Paul 97:5
It’s naive to believe stricter rules will make a difference. If enough honorable men and women served in Congress and resisted the temptation to be influenced by any special interest group, of course this whole discussion would be unnecessary. Because Members do yield to the pressure, the reformers believe that more rules regulating political speech will solve the problem.

1999 Ron Paul 97:6
The reformers argue that it’s only the fault of those trying to influence government and not the fault of the Members who yield to the pressure or the system that generates the abuse. This allows Members of Congress to avoid assuming responsibility for their own acts and instead places the blame on those who exert pressure on Congress through the political process which is a basic right bestowed on all Americans. The reformer’s argument is “stop us before we succumb to the special interest groups.”

1999 Ron Paul 97:7
Politicians unable to accept this responsibility clamor for a system that diminishes the need for politicians to persuade individuals and groups to donate money to their campaign. Instead of persuasion they endorse coercing taxpayers to finance campaigns.

1999 Ron Paul 97:8
This only changes the special interest groups that control government policy. Instead of voluntary groups making their own decisions with their own money, politicians and bureaucrats dictate how political campaigns will be financed. Not only will politicians and bureaucrats gain influence over elections, other nondeservers will benefit. Clearly, incumbents will greatly benefit by more controls over campaign spending — a benefit to which the reformers will never admit.

1999 Ron Paul 97:9
The media becomes a big winner. Their influence grows as private money is regulated. It becomes more difficult to refute media propaganda, both print and electronic, when directed against a candidate if funds are limited. Campaigns are more likely to reflect the conventional wisdom and candidates will strive to avoid media attacks by accommodating their views.

1999 Ron Paul 97:10
The wealthy gain a significant edge since it’s clear candidates can spend unlimited personal funds in elections. This is a big boost for the independently wealthy candidates over the average challenger who needs to raise and spend large funds to compete.

1999 Ron Paul 97:11
Celebrities will gain even a greater benefit than they already enjoy. Celebrity status is money in the bank and by limiting the resources to counter-balance this advantage, works against the non-celebrity who might be an issue-oriented challenger.

1999 Ron Paul 97:12
This current reform effort ignores the legitimate and moral “political action committees” that exist only for good reasons and do not ask for any special benefit from government. The immoral “political action committees” that work only to rip-off the taxpayers by getting benefits from government may deserve our condemnation but not the heavy hand of government anxious to control this group along with all the others. The reformers see no difference between the two and are willing to violate all personal liberty. Since more regulating doesn’t address the basic problem of influential government, now out of control, neither groups deserves more coercive government rules. All the rules in the world can’t prevent members from yielding to political pressure of the groups that donate to their campaigns. Regulation cannot instill character.

1999 Ron Paul 97:13
Additionally, the legislative debate over campaign finance reform has seemingly focused upon the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, as interpreted and applied by the courts. The constitutional issues, however, are not limited to the First Amendment. To the contrary, pursuant to their oaths of office, members of Congress have an independent duty to determine the constitutionality of legislation before it and to decide, before ever reaching the First Amendment, whether they have been vested by the Constitution with any authority, at all, to regulate federal election campaigns. Congress has no authority except that which is “granted” in the Constitution. Thus, the threshold question concerning H.R. 417 is whether the Constitution has conferred upon Congress any authority to regular federal election campaigns. The authority to regulate such campaigns is not found among any enumerated power conferred upon Congress.

1999 Ron Paul 97:14
More regulation of political speech through control of private money, without addressing the subject of influential government only drives the money underground, further giving a select group an advantage over the honest candidate who only wants smaller government.

1999 Ron Paul 97:15
True reform is not possible without changing the role of government, which now exists to regulate, tax, subsidize, and show preferential treatment. Only changing the nature of government will eliminate the motive for so many to invest so much in the political process. But we should not make a bad situation worse by passing more bad laws.
Notes:

1999 Ron Paul 97:12 only to rip-off the taxpayers probably should be unhyphenated: only to rip off the taxpayers.

1999 Ron Paul 97:12 neither groups deserves more coercive government rules probably should be neither group deserves more coercive government rules.

1999 Ron Paul 97:13 any authority to regular federal election campaigns probably should be any authority to regulate federal election campaigns.

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