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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fairness: Congress-speak for "Screw You"

As Sharon Theimer of the AP reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, President Bush helped raise some $23 million for his party's coffers in $2,500 chunks this past Tuesday. $2,500 out of your price range? Current federal law allows people to give national political parties ten times that much - $25,000 - which would have gotten you a picture taken with the president at Tuesday's fundraiser.

And even if you can afford to keep up with those particular Joneses, a bill by Reps. Mike Pence (IN) and Albert Wynn (MD) that would blow the top off those limits just made its way out of the House Administration Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Ney (OH). The $25,000 limit would stay, but the $101,400 aggregate limit (if you want to call it a limit) on contributions to all federal candidates and parties would be completely lifted.

The Pence-Wynn bill, cynically titled the 527 Fairness Act, would allow a rich person to make every two years a contribution of $20,000 to each of the 50 state political parties ($1 million), a contribution of $53,400 to each of the three national political party committees ($160,200), and a contribution of $4,200 to an unlimited number of federal candidates (more than $2 million).

That's the definition of fairness brought to you by members of Congress elected under the current contribution limits . . . fatcats get to spend $3 million every two years. Can you imagine what the definition of fairness would be for members elected under the new (lack of) limits?

As long as money matters in political campaigns (and it does - more than 90% of races are won by the candidate that spends the most), and as long as rich people can contribute dollar amounts that are out of range for the vast majority of Americans (and they already are), the citizens of this country will continue to be represented by folks like Mssrs. Pence and Wynn, who seem to be speaking a completely different language than the rest of us.

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