Monday, April 9, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 128



Staff Editorial


Tom Carpenter                      Ed De La Garza                       Crystal J. Doucette 
Romina Kim                           Jim Parsons


Campaign finance reform a sham

Skepticism comes to mind when the issue of campaign finance reform pops up.

So when the Senate passed the McCain-Feingold bill last week, many were not even excited, to say the least.

The fact is that the bill will do little to change the current campaign financing rules. It will provide a few patches here and there to fix some trouble spots, but most of the areas will remain the same.

Even supporters of the bill acknowledge that the average voter will see no difference in future political campaigns once the bill becomes a law.

The bill would end the flow of soft money from unions, corporations and special interest organizations to national political parties. It would also force more disclosure on the campaign process, restrict certain kinds of advertising and ban foreign contributions.

But it would still allow for special interests to donate up to $5,000 to candidates and would also raise the cap on individual donations.

In short, the bill will not remove money from politics, but supporters say it's a step in the right direction.

Critics argue the bill will not make money disappear from the process, just shift it from the parties to the special interests, which will fall short of being called an actual reform.

Then there are those who argue that putting restrictions on where the campaign money is spent violates free speech. The problem rests on the issue that if the bill stipulates the type of ads that can be paid for with soft money, then that would hinder the free speech rights of the person sending the message.

The bill had to be rewritten before it passed the Senate, so the chances of its being rejected are less in the House, in which many representatives are vowing to defeat it when it reaches the floor.

The form this bill takes does not matter. The most influence will come from the people who have the most money. There is no other way around that.

So the point of this bill is to please those who have been crying out loud for some type of campaign finance reform, but without irking those who actually benefit from the money, who are, in essence, the same people who are passing the legislation.

That's a shocker.

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