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Friday, February 11, 2005

Congress Nickel-and-Dimes Regular Americans to the Political Sidelines

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From 1974 to 2002, rich Americans could give no more than $1,000 to any federal candidate. I say rich Americans because very few middle class Americans and virtually no poor Americans could or can afford to give anywhere near that much.

In 2002, Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA, also known as McCain-Feingold), which doubled that limit to $2,000. The increase was done as part of a compromise to get rid of the unlimited "soft money" that fatcats and corporations could give to political parties. Many a self-styled reformer trumpeted the BCRA as a victory over big money in politics.

It was not, not just because of the infamous 527 loophole, but because the doubled limits allowed wealthy folks to double their advantage over regular folks in their ability to influence the political process.

Now, two years later, as Sharon Theimer reports for the Associated Press, those limits have crept upwards again thanks to the BCRA's inflation provisions. Wealthy interests already dominated American politics prior to the doubling of limits in 2002. I don't know too many folks who think that the problem with politics is that wealthy interests simply don't have enough influence, but there you have it. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, thought otherwise.

Now, thanks to the inflation provisions of the BCRA, Congress and its paymasters will continue to distance the vast majority of the American people from the government which is supposed to represent them.

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