Viewpoint

Pragmatic campaign finance reform

From an editorial Wednesday in the Washington Post:

In a post-Citizens United America – and in the midst of a presidential race awash in dark money – what hope is there for reform? Hillary Clinton on Tuesday offered a smart and realistic plan.

Ms. Clinton has long criticized the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling and the era of political spending it encouraged, an era built on the fiction that big spenders aren’t connected to candidates’ campaigns.

Ms. Clinton also has embraced a more positive and pragmatic approach. She would take the example of New York City, which matches small campaign donations with public money, thereby magnifying the voices of engaged citizens who don’t have the money to write big checks. For the first $175 of a donation to a participating candidate, the city matches every dollar with six additional dollars.

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., has proposed applying this sort of system to congressional elections, which Mr. Sarbanes estimates would cost about $500 million over 10 years.

Public matching wouldn’t be a panacea. But it could lead to more politicians being more responsive to larger groups of people.

Ms. Clinton’s plan isn’t new. But she deserves credit for putting these proposals at the center of a presidential campaign.

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