[DEBATE] : US lessig on reforming congress - or change the best democracy money can buy
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Fri Feb 27 19:34:42 GMT 2009
Co-founder of Change Congress, founder of Stanford Law's Center for
Internet & Society
Posted February 27, 2009 | 11:02 AM (EST)
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Special Interests Prepare to Derail Obama Agenda
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Read More: Change Congress, Donor Strike, Joe Trippi, Lawrence Lessig,
Lobbyists, Special Interests, Wall Street Journal, Politics News
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Thursday morning's Wall Street Journal reported:
Industries from health care to agribusiness to mining that stand
to lose under President Barack Obama's policy agenda are ramping up
lobbying campaigns to derail or modify his plans.
... Opinion polls indicate that Mr. Obama's broad goals enjoy
popular support. But crucial details of the president's agenda will be
decided in coming months by close-in legislative fighting, where big
industries and the members of Congress that support them have plenty
While lobbying alone is not evil, the combination of special interest
lobbyists plus their ability to legally funnel millions into political
campaigns is toxic. Members of Congress become dependent upon the
lobbyists, and lobbyists sell the clout this dependency creates.
Joe Trippi recently explained more:
Right now, millions in campaign contributions coupled with
millions spent on lobbying can result in billions worth of payback for
special interests. It's all legal.
...But there are some big losers in that equation: The public. The
American people have lost faith in a system dominated by money. We
don't have lobbyists looking out for the public good. And when
non-profit groups do send liaisons to congressional offices, they
don't have the same clout as a lobbyist who can put together a $50,000
fundraiser later that evening.
The public faces a choice: do we continue playing a rigged game where
the voices of special interests outweigh the voices of regular people
or do we fundamentally change the game?
I know my answer to that question.
Change Congress, the anti-corruption group I formed with Joe Trippi,
has already mobilized thousands of people across the nation in support
of a political "donor strike" where we pledge not to give politicians
a penny more unless they support bipartisan legislation that would
fundamentally reform the way congressional campaigns are funded.
If you're ready to change the system, please join the donor strike today.
Specifically, we're advocating for the Durbin-Specter plan, which
combines public financing with Obama-style small dollar contributions.
It would liberate politicians from spending huge portions of their day
courting $2,400 special-interest checks and instead allow them to
court support from regular people.
This model has already worked on the state level, and it garners
nearly 70% in national polls. It's also the essence of fiscal
responsibility - according to the conservative Cato Institute, the
money saved by politicians being free to slash corporate welfare would
fund over half-a-century of public funding and save taxpayers billions
We all have our favorite issues. Mine is global warming. Yours may be
health care. But progress will be blocked on all of these issues until
we change the game. Unfortunately, politicians won't make reform a
priority unless we demand it in stark terms.
So far, over $850,000 has been withheld in the donor strike by about
7,000 people (based on last cycle's contributions). Dianne Feinstein
alone has lost over $200,000. When a politician puts their name on the
Durbin-Specter bill, they're in the clear.
If ever there were a moment in history to push for fundamental reform,
this is it. Will you join the donor strike today?
Together, we can Change Congress.
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