Focus Point - Campaign Finance Reform

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Two recent events show the dangers of campaign finance "reform."

First is Bradley Smith's nomination to the Federal Election Commission. Senate liberals have stalled it, offended by his belief we don't spend much on campaigns -- in 1998, for example, about a fifth of what Americans spent on potato chips. He says less spending means less understanding. Ban negative advertising (whatever that is), and you ban criticism of the government. Cap spending, and you grant incumbents an overwhelming advantage: free mailing, media access and large staffs.

Then there's Al Gore's spectacularly bad idea of a national trust, funded by corporations and wealthy people, to pay for congressional races. An un-elected commission of political appointees would decide how much speech would be allowed in each of the 500 campaigns around the country. And if the coffers weren't full enough, broadcasters would be forced to give free air time to candidates. Gore's proposal is risky and silly, a liberal's dream of how to keep ideas he doesn't like from being heard.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, regulating e-commerce.