One of the many issues that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has promoted throughout his political career is the need for campaign finance reform, specifically in the political world following the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision on the Citizens v. United case.
In an interview with Vox.com, Sanders described his proposal for campaign finance reform by offering $100 to each American to spend on a political candidate’s campaign.
“One way which I find intriguing is that you basically provide $100 for every citizen in the United States of America, and you say to that person, ‘Here’s your hundred bucks, you can make a contribution, you can get a $100 tax credit if you spend $100 on any candidate you want,’” Sanders stated. “I think that would democratize very significantly the political process in America and take us a long way away from these Super PACs controlled by billionaires who are now buying elections.”
Some members of Congress agree with Sanders’ plan and have acted accordingly. Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland has proposed the Government by the People Act; according to Vox, the legislation “would give a tax credit for the value half of donations to US House candidates, up to a maximum $25 for individuals.”
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While the proposal has the potential to raise millions of dollars, Sanders still remained skeptical if it would be enough to combat the billion dollar presidential election cycle.
“I think what you want to do is at least make sure that candidates who are running will have as much money as their opponents – who may have unlimited sums of money,” Sanders said. However, Sanders has bucked that trend, raising $10 million based on small donations from the American public, Vox noted.
Sanders seemed quite concerned about the future of money in the American political system, suggesting that a greater influence of money is evolving U.S. politics to “an oligarchic form of society.”
“The millionaire class and the billionaire class increasingly own the political process, and they own the politicians that go to them for money," he added.
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One bit of relief is that Sanders’ plan is already being carried out around the country. In Oregon, citizens receive a $50 tax credit, and $100 if jointly filed, if they donate to a political campaign. If they do not use the money for that purpose, they must return the funds to the state government, The Daily Kos noted.