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house Bill H.R. 424

Should Public Funds for Political Campaigns be Increased to Keep Private Interests out of Politics?

Argument in favor

This bill would make the voice of average Americans in the political process stronger at the expense of the rich, and a six-to-one public match for contributions under $250 is a great way to empower normal (non-billionaires) people in this country.

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05/19/2015
"I want candidates to debate the real issues facing our country, not spend millions on ugly and negative 30-second ads."
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Cary's Opinion
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05/08/2015
Money is speech, but Increasing the ratio to a 6 to 1 match for contributions under $250, helps my small voice be heard.
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06/15/2015
"We should start by embracing citizen-funded elections, to reduce the outsized influence of special interests and the very wealthy in our politics. Small donors should have their contributions matched by six-to-one or more, and be rewarded through a refundable tax credit that encourages more people to give and participate." [martinomalley.com]
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Argument opposed

Campaign contributions are political speech, and people should be able to speak with money in any way they want. If candidates can raise more $$$ outside of the public campaign finance system, even with this increase, why would they bother using it?

DonaldTrump's Opinion
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06/26/2015
"I don’t need a super PAC, because I’ll spend my own money." [vox.com]
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ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/23/2015
This is an awful bill. The government would give even more of our money away to bureaucrats, only in this bill, it gives them money directly. This bill creates a huge incentive just to run for the presidency for financial gain. We want a president who sees his job as a sacred duty, not a payday.
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Alicia's Opinion
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05/09/2015
Políticians are supposed to be public servants, public funds should be used for the public good not to further enrich media moguls. Instead of money, allot free & equal amounts of PSA time to candidates, set spending limits for elections and get rid of Citizens United. The campaign period and campaign fund raising should be limited to 6 months prior to an election.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedJanuary 21st, 2015

What is House Bill H.R. 424?

This bill — the Empowering Citizens Act — would make changes to the way that public funding (taxpayer dollars) is given to presidential campaigns and candidates in general elections. The bill would also establish a system of public financing for congressional elections. All changes, if this bill passes, would start after January 1, 2016.

Under current law, public funding offers "qualified Presidential candidates" federal funding to pay for valid campaign expenses for the primaries and the general election. These funds go to: 
  • Matching (one-to-one) the first $250 (or less) of each individual contribution that an eligible Presidential candidate receives during the primary campaign;
  • Financing major national party nominating conventions and some eligible minor parties' conventions;
  • Funding general election campaigns for major (and eligible minor) party nominees.

This bill would increase matched funds to six-to-one for primaries. The amount of aggregate individual contributions would be set at $1,000, and the total amount of payments that could be made to a presidential primary candidate would be capped at $300 million. These totals would be adjusted for inflation beginning after 2015.

New requirements for presidential candidates who choose to use the public financing system would increase the donation thresholds that candidates must raise from $5,000 in each of 20 states, to $25,000 in each state with contribution limits of $250 per candidate. These candidates would also have to commit to accept public financing in both the primary and general elections.

Presidential primary candidates would be prohibited from accepting contributions or bundled contributions (a bunch of small contributions rolled into one) from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).

The tax check-off for contributions to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund would be increased from $3 to $20. It does not increase a person’s tax bill or decrease their refund.

Impact

Americans that would make campaign contributions, candidates in presidential primaries and election or congressional elections, political parties, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 424

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note: Public funding for presidential elections has been available since 1976, but proposals for public funding date back as far as 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt suggested it in his State of the Union. Every major presidential nominee from 1976 to 2004 has used public funds for the general election.

President Obama was a proponent of public campaign financing when competing in the 2008 Democratic primary — but he and his eventual Republican opponent Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opted out after recognizing that their campaigns would be better funded without the limitations. President Obama also became the first ever major-party candidate to decline public funding for both the primary and the general election.

Campaign finance underwent a drastic change after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court ruled that restrictions on independent political expenditures by nonprofit corporations were prohibited by the First Amendment.

The principles underpinning that decision have led to the elimination of restrictions on political expenditures by corporations, labor unions, and other association, which has been heavily criticized by some as drowning out the voices of average voters.


In-Depth: The 2012 presidential elections were the most expensive elections in U.S. history, costing an estimated $6 billion. Of those dollars, $970 million were spent by outside groups among ‘super PACs’, and another $2 billion was spent solely on the presidential election.

That was followed up in 2014 by the most expensive midterm election in history, which cost about $3.77 billion despite having 100,000 fewer donors than the previous midterm election.

Versions of this proposal were introduced in both the 112th Congress and the 113th Congress, but neither proposal ever advanced out of committee to receive a vote.

Other provisions of the bill include:
General election payment provisions would be revised to allow a grant of $50 million to candidates and an additional $150 million in matching funds based on the six-to-one match of contributions raised after June 1 based on contributions of under $250 per donor.

Expenditure limitations for presidential primary and general elections would be eliminated. The limit on coordinated spending by a national party and its presidential candidate would be increased to $100 million. A candidate’s committee would be prohibited from establishing a joint fundraising committee with a political committee other than an authorized committee of a candidate.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user P.O. Arnäs

AKA

Empowering Citizens Act

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reform the system of public financing for Presidential elections, to establish a system of public financing for Congressional elections, to promote the disclosure of disbursements made in coordination with campaigns for election for Federal office, and for other purposes.

    "I want candidates to debate the real issues facing our country, not spend millions on ugly and negative 30-second ads."
    Like (345)
    Follow
    Share
    "I don’t need a super PAC, because I’ll spend my own money." [vox.com]
    Like (71)
    Follow
    Share
    Money is speech, but Increasing the ratio to a 6 to 1 match for contributions under $250, helps my small voice be heard.
    Like (44)
    Follow
    Share
    "We should start by embracing citizen-funded elections, to reduce the outsized influence of special interests and the very wealthy in our politics. Small donors should have their contributions matched by six-to-one or more, and be rewarded through a refundable tax credit that encourages more people to give and participate." [martinomalley.com]
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    This is an awful bill. The government would give even more of our money away to bureaucrats, only in this bill, it gives them money directly. This bill creates a huge incentive just to run for the presidency for financial gain. We want a president who sees his job as a sacred duty, not a payday.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    Políticians are supposed to be public servants, public funds should be used for the public good not to further enrich media moguls. Instead of money, allot free & equal amounts of PSA time to candidates, set spending limits for elections and get rid of Citizens United. The campaign period and campaign fund raising should be limited to 6 months prior to an election.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    I don't like the idea of publicly funded campaigns but it would beat the system now that favors the candidate with the most money behind them.
    Like (11)
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    This is the biggest issue facing our country !
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    Public financing of elections, especially small donor matching funds like we have in NYC, is a way to put constituents back front and center as opposed to donors in vying for candidates time. Special interest money must be counterbalanced by attention to voters and small donors.
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    Money is not speech, we have people with great ideas who the wealthy do not want to be heard. There are too many partisan politicians thanks to Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United. Unions and Corporations should be banned from putting any amount of money into the campaign system.
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    As long as money is speech, speech is not free. As long as money is speech, corporations and the insanely rich will be the only ones to ever have a voice. We need to get rid of all private donations and instate taxpayer-funded elections. That way, candidates and officials will never waste a single minute fundraising (they already spend 75% of their time in office doing it anyway,) and those who blow their campaign coffers will blow their chances at political office, and show us that they would've blown the treasury in much the same way.
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    The government should be sending that money back. They're all crooked anyway.
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    I personally don't have enough money to give more to government to spend on what passes for campaigning but I have no problem with people and organizations that do want to waste their money from doing so. SEIU or any private company can exercise their political free speach. Those ads do nothing to help or hinder my decisions.
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    NO NO NO ABSOLUTELY NOT. How god damn many more excuses are you going to come up with to steal money from me??? I don't want tax money going to campaigns! I want campaign reform but here's how it should be: 1. Only individual politicians are able to take donations, not pacts, committees, conferences, partys or groups of any kind. 2. Only single individuals can contribute, not corporations, businesses, charities, or groups of any kind. They also have a maximum of $1000 per year controlled by your SSN. This will get the money and the influence out of politics. If you really want honesty in government I would also have term limits of ONE term in any elected position and I would also make it illegal to run for office if you're already elected. I'm sick of officials governing to get re-elected. That should never be a consideration in anything you do as an elected official.
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    We need a constitutional amendment that makes it clear than money is not free speech so that special interests are not able to buy our politicians and government!
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    Each candidate should be paid a set amount from a public trust and that is all. No private money should be allowed into a public election. Fair and equal time to each candidate insures have elections and not auctions.
    Like (4)
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    "Should public funds be increased for..." inherently means "should we raise your taxes to pay for...". The government has nothing - no money, no goods, no services - of its own. It has nothing that it does not first take from someone else. It has no public funds - for political campaigns or otherwise - that it does not first extract from its citizenry. So the actual legislation on the table is "Should we force you to pay for everyone's campaigns?" The difference between public and private funding of campaigns is that with public funding you and I don't get to decide who gets our money to spend on their campaign. Your forced contribution amount (AKA "tax") increases so that they can give it to someone you probably wouldn't have donated to if left to your own voluntary decision.
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    It is the individuals responsibility to make their opinion known through campaign financing.
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    Taxpayer money for campaign ads? No thanks!
    Like (4)
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    with the current funding from the private businesses, it is a one party puppet system. we need to limit that so the people choose the government, not the businesses.
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