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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Slamming The Door On 527s: Correcting The McCain/Feingold Boondoggle

Everyone remember the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform bill from a couple years ago? The one that opened the door to the 527s, and allowed an unprecedented amount of soft money to flow into DNC coffers? Well, the House has put a kabosh to that, as the WaPo reports today. (HT: Captain's Quarters)

The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.

The bill passed 218 to 209 in a virtual party-line vote.

Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.

The 527 committees, named for a section of the tax law, are tax-exempt organizations that use voter mobilization and issue-based ads to influence federal elections. They grew in importance after the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law barred federal candidates and national parties from accepting unlimited donations from individuals, unions and corporations.

In 2003-2004, for example, international financier George Soros broke all contribution records by giving a total of $27 million to pro-Democratic groups such as America Coming Together and the Media Fund.

Although the measure's prospects for approval in the Senate are considered slim, House Republicans wanted a vote on what they could describe as "reform" legislation. At the same time, GOP leaders sought to embarrass Democrats by making them vote in apparent support of the use of soft money in federal campaigns.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) described the bill as "the first piece of the broad GOP lobbying and earmark reform package." Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) declared that the legislation demonstrates that "the Republican Party is the party of reform."

Their statements drew ridicule from Democrats. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the measure is designed to tilt campaign finance in favor of the GOP and will not change the public image of this session as "the Congress that Jack and Tom built."

This has nothing to do with giving one side or the other a benefit. It comes down to dealing with a problem created by two narcissistic senators who love to be lauded by the press, and dislike being ignored. John McCain was all hot-to-trot when he was working on this reform, but in his rush to end direct soft-money contributions, he opened the proverbial Pandora's Box for 2004. His disdain for the Swift Boat Vets was well-noted, and didn't help him with the GOP base. He specifically pointed out the Swift Boat Vets for their "attack" ads against John Kerry, but failed to point out George Soros' contributions to MoveOn.org or DemocraticUnderground. The man gave over $27 million in donations to those two groups and host of others to defeat President Bush. Of course, it didn't work. America wasn't fooled by the BDS rhetoric.

This was something that had to be dealt with, especially in the run-up to this year's mid-term elections. Everyone knew it, and I congratulate Rep. John Boehner for taking this step. Thus far, the man has been spot-on to his word of reforming certain areas of Congress. First, it was the earmarks and lobbying reform, and now it's the soft money that ended up in candidates hands, or in ads against their opponents. This was a mess created by the McCain/Feingold legislation, and now the House is cleaning it up.

Does it have a chance to pass the Senate? Slimly, yes, but it will be a fight. I am expecting the two people involed in the original legislation to throw hissy fits; it's never a pretty picture when one has to admit that they were wrong. Further, when the 2004 election was done, McCain promised to go back over the CFR legislation, and correct the mistakes. That was over a year ago, and nothing had been done. Going into 2006, the lack of reforms would have made this election cycle just as nasty and vicious. And maybe McCain was hoping for that. It would have given him part of a platform to run on in 2008, should he decide to run for president. However, the nation doesn't have another year to wait on John McCain.

Publius II


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