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The Facts and Fiction of Election Reforms

Two of the Clinton campaign's central promises aimed at reducing the federal budget deficit and "reinventing" government. Unfortunately, President Clinton's recently unveiled campaign finance reform plan will do neither. The most dramatic step the President could take toward accomplishing his goals would be to resist congressmen's desires on the topic closest to their hearts: election laws.

The President's plans to lower the Political Action Committee (PAC) contribution limit of $5,000 to match the individual limit of $1,000, to prohibit "bundling" of contributions, and to ban lobbyists from giving or soliciting campaign funds have all been abandoned in the face of opposition from the House Democratic leadership. What remains closely resembles the House and Senate bills H.R. 3 and S. 3, respectively. These bills, similar to last year's campaign finance reform bill, offer tax dollars to ease incumbents' fundraising chores while making it more difficult for credible challengers to mount winning campaigns. These bills will cost hundreds of millions of federal dollars annually and further entrench the status quo in Washington.

Congressmen have a direct stake in election laws. Election reforms should make elections more competitive; instead, past "reforms" have increased the already formidable advantage enjoyed by congressional incumbents. Both of the new election reform...

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