Will a Democratic Congress ban all contributions from lobbyists? Pelosi Could
MR. RUSSERT: Will you bar all lobbyist contributions?These ideas, though not as incendiary as talk of impeachment, represent far more extreme and dangerous stances. First of all, they serve to show the willingness of Democratic leaders to raise taxes, whatever the cause. The all-too-common thought appears to be "if there's a problem, raising taxes will fix it". Remember that these statements came the very same week that the Dow Jones was approaching record levels, with recent unemployment numbers showing more improvement, and in an economy that hat been growing faster than any other industrialized nation; three products from President Bush' highly criticized tax cuts (for the sake of full disclosure, I was initially against the cuts but have come to realize that they have stimulated the economy). Raising taxes now would be a horrible decision.
REP. PELOSI: I’m for, I’m for what we call clean campaigns. That is [p]ublic funding of campaigns. I think we have to break the link completely. I think we have to break the link completely.
MR. RUSSERT: Who’s going to pay for that? You think the American taxpayer will want to pay for campaigns?
REP. PELOSI: Well, you can—it can be an add-on. Or the American people can decide...
MR. RUSSERT: What do you mean, add-on to what?
REP. PELOSI: They can add-on to their—in other words, you’re paying your considerable taxes...and you can add on to that to, to get a...
MR. RUSSERT: But voluntary—it doesn’t pay for the presidential system, barely. How, how...
REP. PELOSI: Well, well that’s a decision the country has to make. But you’re asking me would I ban, I’m answering back what I would do. But what we do...
MR. RUSSERT: But will, will a Democratic Congress ban all contributions from lobbyists?
REP. PELOSI: We could do that.
MR. RUSSERT: You will?
REP. PELOSI: We could do that.
Secondly, Rep. Pelosi does not realize the importance that privately funded campaigns play. It is a simple argument of incentives. Candidates with a more appealing message are able to obtain proportionally greater levels of financial support. Those with less popular ideas receive less money. The incentive to donate money is that you are giving it to a candidate whom you agree with. In that way, financial support is a reflection of candidate support. Strictly publicly funded campaigns (i.e. if hard-money and soft-money lobbying were banned) would eliminate this concept, preventing those with more appealing messages - be it more appealing to businesses, religious groups, civil rights groups, individuals, educational groups etc. - from obtaining a financial advantage. Related to this is the fact that people are hesitant to provide an "add-on" to their taxes when the money may go to support candidates whom they strongly disagree with. In this way her "plan" is completely nonsensical, and should be recognized as such.
Thirdly, corruption obviously exists on capitol hill, but placing a "ban" on lobbying is not only unconstitutional, it doesn't address the issue. Bribery can occur whether or not someone is labeled a lobbyist. If Jack Abramoff's official job title were not "lobbyist", would his actions be less despicable? Of course not! Bannying lobbying will prevent bribery to the same extent that banning murder lowers the homicide rate. In fact, one could argue that the recent scandals on both sides of the political divide represents a success; that those who perpetrate these corrupt acts are being caught.
If Minority Leader Pelosi really wants to fight corruption, she should do so in a way that does not stifle our political system, and that provides meaningful changes and oversight. Extreme talk of raising taxes and publicly funded elections only show how out of touch she is with logic.