Notes: Thinking about the subject of campaign finance reform, it amused me that we put dead politicians on money -- Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton and Chase. It seemed ironically fitting, though of course the real purpose was to honor them.
On that subject, the House of Representatives passed a campaign finance reform bill to stem the flow of unregulated soft money about 3 a.m. Thursday morning. It came after a long day of wrangling over the measure. The Senate had already approved a similar measure, so passage is expected though some Senate Republicans are promising to filibuster to prevent a vote on the bill. However, a coalition of Democratic and Republican Senators appear to have the 60 votes required to shut down any filibuster. President Bush is not expected to veto the reform if it passes.
The Washington Post carried a story on Friday saying Bush had helped the reform bill pass in the House. Wednesday morning his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, told several reporters at an unrecorded meeting that the President essentially thought the measure should pass. This information was immediately put out on the Internet and House Republicans looking for a reason to vote for the reform bill then had it. Later in the day, according to the Post, after House Speaker had sent word to the White House that he was angry about what had happened, Fleischer softened his representation of the President's position on the measure saying he would have to see what the final legislation was before he stated his position. The story said that it was too late to stop the momentum of passage by then.
Several organizations have said they will take the reform measure to court if it becomes law. A leading basis will be that because of restrictions on placing issue ads close to an election, they think the law would be an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of speech and a restriction of the right to petition the government. It's just that it happens to cost money these days to petition the government or to get your message across they say.
A Reuters' report carried on Yahoo news stated that according to John McCain -- a strong proponent of reform -- said, "The day that this bill is passed, smart guys down on K Street will be figuring out loopholes to try to get around it. And they will succeed to some degree."
I'm so cynical about the ability to control political contributions that I'm mildly in the Neanderthal corner that says to let everyone give what they want, but require full and immediate public disclosure of the value of the contribution and the names and addresses of anyone connected with making the donation with severe penalties for fudging. Grunt. 2.17.02