I’ve heard Dylan Ratigan talk a fair amount on his show about his plan to get money out of politics, but it was only today that I saw what his specific proposed constitutional amendment is:
No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, campaign contributions to candidates for Federal office shall not constitute speech of any kind as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office.
Ezra Klein’s question “what party does your third party solve” also seems relevant here. There are some obvious problems that this would create. Like let’s say you’re Elizabeth Warren and you want to run a campaign against Scott Brown. How do you pay your campaign manager? How do you let people know that you’re running? To me, this doesn’t solve the problem that when Washington regulates the financial system, it’s dependent for expertise on people with ties to the financial industry. It doesn’t solve the problem of the revolving door. It doesn’t solve the problem that politicians need the “legislative subsidy” of lobbyists to do policy analysis. Nor does it solve the problem of monied interests exercising disproportionate influence over think tanks, advocacy groups, or even (through speaking fees and the like) journalists and pundits. Presumably the people who make the F-22 will still be allowed to advertise about how high levels of defense spending are awesome, just as ExxonMobile will still be allowed to advertise about how fossil fuel extraction is the road to prosperity. You’l have created some big new logistical hassles for political campaigns without, I think, addressing any concrete issues.
I’d say that in general, the problems we have with money and politics aren’t really that there’s too much money “in” the politics and we need to get it “out.” It’s too difficult for non-incumbent candidates to get any money. And it’s too difficult for elected officials to get expert technical opinion on issues without relying on interested parties.