Stricter limits on political campaign funds


This question is looking for your views on whether wealthy individuals should have an unlimited right to finance political candidates (including themselves). However you answer the above question would be similar to your response to these statements:

How do you decide between "Support" and "Strongly Support" when you agree with both the descriptions above? (Or between "Oppose" and "Strongly Oppose"). The strong positions are generally based on matters of PRINCIPLES where the regular support and oppose positions are based on PRACTICAL matters. If you answer "No Opinion," this question is not counted in the VoteMatch answers for any candidate. If you give a general answer of Support vs. Oppose, VoteMatch can more accurately match a candidate with your stand. Don't worry so much about getting the strength of your answer exactly refined, or to think too hard about the exact wording of the question -- like candidates!


  • "McCain-Feingold" refers to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as BCRA, named after its sponsors, Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D, WI). McCain-Feingold doubled the campaign donation limit from $1,000 per person to $2,000 per person ($2,500 in 2012), known as "hard money." The law banned "soft money" contributions to political parties, but later Supreme Court cases, particularly "Citizens United," allowed unlimited soft money for purposes of advertising for or against a candidate as long as there was no "coordination" with the campaign.

  • ‘Citizens United’ refers to a 2010 Supreme Court case which allowed unlimited spending by ‘Super-PACs’ on behalf of any candidate, as long as the TV ads are not coordinated with the campaign itself. Super-PACs dominate the spending in the 2012 presidential primaries.

  • ‘PAC money’ means donations to political action committees, which is used for issue ads which typically favor one candidate, but do not count in federal spending limits.

  • ‘Soft money’ means donations to the national party rather than to a particular candidate ($193 million in the 1998 election, for example).

  • ‘Hard money’ is subject to less reform proposals -- it means cash donations to a particular candidate, which must be fully reported to the FEC.

  • Individuals may donate a maximum of $1000 to one candidate, but may donate any amount of soft money, and any amount to PACs.

  • Candidates who volutarily limit their campaign spending qualify for federal matching funds of about $100 million.
  • “Earmark Reform" refers to changing the rules of Congress to restrict “earmarks," which are currently legal and ethical.

  • “Earmarks" means line items in legislative bills which allocate specific monetary resources to a specific purpose (or to a specific company).

  • An example is a highway improvement project in a House member's district, buried in a 1,000-page spending bill.

  • Earmarks have become controversial because, in theory, members of Congress could quietly allocate an earmark that would benefit a campaign donor (known as “pork-barrel spending").

  • Proposed reforms range from full disclosure (showing every earmark and its originating legislator on a public website) to the Line Item Veto (allowing the President to veto earmarks without vetoing the entire spending bill).
  • The term "czar" refers to a powerful presidential appointee who is not confirmed by the Senate. In other words, a "czar" is answerable only to the President, unlike normal Cabinet secretaries and other appointees, who must pass the Senate confirmation process.

  • "Czar" is an informal title used by the press and sometimes by the appointee. For example, Elizabeth Warren was known as the "Consumer Czar," but her formal title was "Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

  • Czars were popularized by Pres. Clinton and the czar count increased to several dozen under Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Obama, but the practice goes back to the 1930s.
      Term Limits
  • The Constitution limits the president to two terms, or a total of 10 years. There are not limits for the US House or the US Senate.

  • In March 1998, the Supreme Court let stand term limits for state lawmakers, but previously ruled that establishing such restrictions nationally would require amending the Constitution. Efforts to limit federal Congressional terms died out in early 1997.

  • 18 states have laws limiting politicians' terms, and in 1998, more than 200 state legislators were forced to retire.

  • The latest push is for term limits for judges. The purpose would be to limit ‘Judicial activism,’ which means establishing new laws from the bench rather than from Congress.
      Balanced Budget Amendment
  • In 1998, the Senate defeated by one vote a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. It would have mandated an end to deficit spending unless 60% of Congress voted to override.
  • State budget balancing requirements typically only apply to the operating budget (ongoing expenses), but not to capital expenditures (one-time investments). The proposed BBA restricts both.
  • The ‘Line Item Veto’ would be another Constitutional Amendment intended to reduce budget growth, by allowing the President to selectively veto particular spending items.
  • ‘Corporate welfare’ restrictions are often addressed in the context of a BBA or Line Item Veto. However, most federal corporate subsidies are embedded in the tax code rather than in the spending side of the budget.
      Devolution to States
  • ‘Unfunded Mandates’ mean that the federal government requires states to undertake activities without providing funding for them.
  • ‘Block Grants’ mean that the federal government gives states funds to spend as each state sees fit.
  • ‘Devolution’ means the federal government should close departments and agencies, transfer functions to the states, or otherwise yield control over policy which is now federally controlled. The philosophy behind devolving power to the states is based in the 10th Amendment. It is currently appiled primarily to welfare reform.
      Reinventing Government
  • ‘Reinvention’ has been the official policy of the federal government since 1993. The basic concepts are:
  • Government should steer rather than row (provide a framework for non-government action rather than operate institutions).
  • Government should focus on outcomes (desired results) and needs of customers (service recipients), rather than inputs (dollars and jobs) and needs of bureaucracies (rules).
  • Government should decentralize and address problems from the lowest level of government possible;
  • Public agencies should compete with private agencies, and should adopt a market orientation;
  • Government which work betters also costs less.
      Election Reform
  • The GOP proposed a plan in May 2000, that small states would have primaries first, progressing to larger states over a four-month primary season.
  • An older proposal is a system of regional primaries with a rotating right to go first.
  • A constitutional amendment would be required to modify the Electoral College, but not to modify the primaries; many states in 2012 switched their GOP primaries from 'Winner-take-all' to 'Proportional'.
      Amendment X to the US Constitution
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (1791)


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