Campaign Financing Should Be Heavily Regulated
Debate Rounds (4)
First round is acceptance.
I will be arguing against the heavy regulation of campaign finance. I won't necessarily argue against campaign finance regulation as a whole, but rather that it just should not be heavy-handed.
Looking forward to a great debate!
Thanks for partaking in this debate, JustinAMoffatt.
The overwhelming amount of money in US politics today is having a disastrous effect upon the effectiveness of our democratic system. With more finances pouring into both sides of politics from the wallets of the wealthiest Americans, our political system is becoming less responsive to the people, and more responsive to big business. In order to preserve democracy, whereby every single individual person has an equal amount of influence upon their elected representative, campaign financing must be regulated.
It is abundantly clear that federal politicians are directly influenced by the money donated from certain lobbyists, individual donors and corporations. From 2013-2014, Goldman Sachs, Euclidean Capital, American Bankers Assn, Bank of America and various other banking organisations donated in excess of 15 million dollars to both Democrats and Republicans  , which has predominantly been used in the fight against the re-introduction of the Glass-Steagall Act, among other bills to regulate Wall St. The people of the United States cannot compete with this sort of money, so both sides of politics ultimately only listen to the side WITH money, and in this case it's the banking sector. Furthermore, most members of the United States Congress received over 40% of their individual campaign funds from the top 1% of the top 1% . No, that's not a typo, the top 1% of the top 1% of Americans accounted for over 40% of the contributions to US politicians in 2012, according to the Sunlight Foundation. And all of this money has had an influence on its recipients, an influence on how they vote. This isn't fair, and to put it frankly is legal bribery.
In order to counter this major issue, financing of campaigns must be placed under heavy regulation. Many suggestions have been raised, in order to develop a system of campaign financing which more appropriately aligns with the democratic system. Firstly, it has been suggested that a cap of $150 (or thereabouts) per individual person or organisation, which will dramatically remove any extreme influence of the wealthy upon politicians and force political parties to appeal to the average voter. Public financing is also a credible option, based upon the purchase of tickets by individual Americans, as a basis of what each party and candidate receives. All of this proposals will encourage candidates to appeal to their local constituents and subsequently make more politicians in-touch with reality.
Campaign financing must be heavily regulated in order to ensure our democracy is effective.
Thanks for having me, AdamCass. Let's make it a fun one!
Since this so closely resembles a policy debate, that is how I will approach it.
Essentially, my opponent proposed three warrants for his plan to be implemented. These will be labeled...
P1. Mo' Money, Mo' Problems (Money in politics corrupts)
P2. Poor People Problems (Most Americans can't keep up with the rich Americans)
P3. No Mo' Problems (CFR [campaign finance regulation] solves by making things equal)
I will address each of these in turn. Overall I hope to show why each of his arguments don't stand, and show, in the words of Catholic University Law Review, that "the First Amendment is not a loophole to be plugged by unconstitutional legislation in misguided efforts to "reform" campaign finance."
Let's get started.
P1. Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
My opponent's point here is simple. He says that money influences politics. But is that really true? If so, how much weight does money actually have in determining what makes a successful campaign?
Let's look at what the experts have to say.
Professors John de Figueiredo (PhD in business and public policy), James Snyder Jr.(PhD in economics), and Stephen Ansolabehere (PhD from Harvard in political science) stated that: "In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years- if anything, they have probably fallen."
There you have it. No buying policies. No individuals being drowned out by lobbyists. No skyrocketing increases of money in politics. Most donations are people with a just and respectable desire to contribute to our democratic system.
While I think this adequately addresses the point, I would like to address one last thing, "special interest groups". You see, these groups have gained a "bad rap", if you will. They have a tendency to donate large sums of money to certain candidates who will promote the causes that the group has a special interest in (e.g. Pro-life groups, Marijuana Legalization groups, etc.). Because of how much money these groups tend to donate, and how the candidates seem to respond, a common myth of "policy-buying" is propitiated. But we must remember one thing. These groups are individuals, such as you and me, who have rallied together for a common cause. They pool their money together, gather funds, and help candidates with their interests already in mind get elected.
So remember. These groups aren't scary external forces. They're groups of concerned citizens participating in our system, and they have every right to do so.
Next let's talk about the disparity between the 0.01% and the 99.99%. A.K.A...
P2. Poor People Problems
While it's easy to get agitated thinking about your vote being drowned out by the "rich guy". There are two main flaws with this argument.
First of all... the little guy seems to have the most say when it comes to campaigns, as shown by William Rinner for Yale Law Review: "The 2008 election cycle challenged the received wisdom of the campaign finance reform movement that political money is the "root of all evil" in democratic politics. Record amounts of money flowed into campaign war chests, but the sheer volume of political money did not deter even small donations.Citizens with little previous connection to democratic politics offered small money donations in record amounts, playing their part in the historic moment. Political money, rather than hindering or discouraging participation in the democratic process, instead allowed citizens to express their support and association in small but meaningful quantities."
So... the biggest contributors are the little guys? Yep! So we see that, really, the rich aren't buying campaigns at all. And especially not elections.
That's the second point I'd like to make. No one can buy your vote (without your consent, of course).
This point is more logical than anything. We hold the ultimate say in all our elections. Sure, maybe the money decides who gets their face on the t.v. more times. But ultimately, we decide who gets to sit in the Oval Office (or the House, Senate, your local town hall, etc.). You literally can't "buy an election". The people will always have the only say that really matters.
Finally, let's adress...
P3. No Mo' Problems
Basically, Pro would have you believe that CFR makes everything better. It doesnt. I know this because... it's been done before. Time and again, we have attempted to fix the campaign finance system with regulation... and time and again it's caused more trouble than it was worth. But don't take my word for it. Dr. Ronald Faucheux(PhD in political science) consented with my view, saying "Insanity is doing something over and over, but expecting a different result. That pretty well describes campaign finance reform in America. The worse the system gets, the more we regulate it. The more we regulate it, the worse it gets."
But why does regulation make things so awful? Because political speech (which is what political contributions were ruled to be, as per the Citizens United v. FEC supreme court decision) wasn't meant to be regulated! It's your right to spend as much money as you want to in an election. If we start limiting how much people can spend with their hard earned money, then we are stripping them of their First Amendment rights.
There is no need for CFR. The "problem" of money in politics is largely exaggerated and quite harmless in reality. There is no external force deciding our elections. We have an impact, and ultimately hold the final say. Also, the restrictions suggested by Pro would strip people of their Constitutional rights and violate Constiutional law.
With all my opponent's contentions effectively rebutted, I look forward to his response.
Ok, a policy debate it is! I would like to start by agreeing with my opponent's, perhaps slightly informal summary of my 3 policy arguments. However, my opponent unfortunately fails to provide successful rebutall to my arguments. I will now respond to what he has claimed.
"There you have it. No buying policies. No individuals being drowned out by lobbyists. No skyrocketing increases of money in politics. Most donations are people with a just and respectable desire to contribute to our democratic system."
The paper which you cite, from the Catholic Law Review, makes a giant leap, immediately defining money as 'free speech'. I will address the false premise that money somehow equals freedom of speech in a moment. However, the very article that you cite, concedes that money has an influence on voters!
"Political issue advocacy affects elections. For example, television advertisements criticizing California Governor Gray Davis for electric power "gray-outs" may cause voters to reject his reelection bid" 
And how is political issue advocacy obtained? Through the purchase of it! Television adverts, billboards and newspaper adverts all sway the public to feel a certain way, and if you do not have money and do not have the ability to purchase advertisements, and purchase influence, you cannot possibly expect to win an election. That's precisely why the 2 party system in the United States is unstoppable, because minor and third parties don't have enough money for voters to hear of them. That doesn't sound like freedom of speech, does it? That sounds like suppression.
On the topic of special interest groups, such as the NRA etc. Whether these groups are individual or acting as a collective, they still have a disproportionate amount of influence over the "average Joe". To label lobbyist groups as somehow 'good-willed, law-abiding citizens' that only want the best for the United States is absurd. For example, the NRA, perhaps the most powerful lobbyist organisation in the United States, receives over 40% of it's donations from gun manufacturers, with 3/4 of it's corporate donors from the firearms industry . As Jordan Weisseman from The Atlantic put it:
"That might theoretically explain why the group has opposed politically popular measures such as requiring background checks at gun shows and banning sales to people on the terrorist watch list, proposals that even its own members have been found to support. For gun makers, the fewer rules, the better. " 
This clearly shows that lobbyist groups are not just organisations of people, but are ultimately influenced heavily by corporations, and in this case for a very wrong reason. This doesn't just apply to the NRA, but to many other organisations, of which corporate powers manipulate for their own economic gain.
Gary Younge, of the Guardian US, argues that:
"Downplaying money's central role at this point merely buys into the illusion of participatory democracy, where ideas, character and strategy are paramount, while others are actually buying the candidates and access to power." 
I would first like to clarify that these aren't just 'poor people problems', but rather problems faced by all Americans who do not spend ridiculous amounts of money. And, that is a huge majority of people, in fact ONLY 0.14% of Americans donate $200 or more to political parties, organisations or candidates . This is a problem faced by well over 90% of American people.
"So... the biggest contributors are the little guys? Yep! So we see that, really, the rich aren't buying campaigns at all. And especially not elections."
That is a false conclusion from that statement, and the 'little guys' were not the biggest contributors. Nowhere in that statement from William J. Rinner of the Harvard Law School does it suggest that the little guys were the greatest contributors, but rather the fact that corporate money didn't deter people from making contributions. This is irrelevant, because the point remains: big money drowns out smaller donations from the average American. In the 2008 election, donations of $1000 or more contributed to 53% of funds raised, while donations of under $200 contributed to only 24% of total funds raised , and as I have explained only 0.14% of Americans actually donate more than $200. A small majority with a ridiculous amount of influence, and the average American is completely drowned out.
So there you have it. My opponent's claim is clearly false when evidence is presented. The average American cannot possibly compete with big money in politics.
"Pro would have you believe that CFR makes everything better. It doesnt. I know this because... it's been done before."
That sounds very unconclusive. And, I accept that campaign financing has been regulated previously. However, is it a coincidence that, while campaign regulation is being removed, this Congress has "become the most unresponsive and out of touch Congress ever"  ? It is clear to me that without laws, without regulation, the US Congress has become out of touch, and is more intent on satisfying it's wealthy donors than actually serving the electorate.
Even if you see previous regulation of campaign financing as failures (which they were not), that doesn't mean a renewed attempt today would be! Measures such as capping of individual donations and public dislosures which have been enacted in the past were effective, but they are relatively small measures compared to the dramatic overhaul of campaign financing that is being proposed. Public funding, with concessions to parties based on registered membership, would be an effective means, and the measurement of failure would be based on Congress' responsiveness and effectiveness, of which logically would skyrocket under such a system, because campaign financing would be more democratic
"But why does regulation make things so awful? Because political speech (which is what political contributions were ruled to be, as per the Citizens United v. FEC supreme court decision) wasn't meant to be regulated! It's your right to spend as much money as you want to in an election. If we start limiting how much people can spend with their hard earned money, then we are stripping them of their First Amendment rights."
The Citizens United v. FEC case, and the McCutcheon v. FEC case, were horrendous. Justice Thomas, who argues (I assume) as you do, that "Money is not freedom of speech. It's a currency, a material object, and the rampant dispraportion in wealth today basically says that "the poor have little free speech, and the rich have more free speech". With such logic, taxation should be illegal, because it's the government taking away 'free speech', because supposedly money is speech.
CFR is fundamentally important for ensuring the survival of our democracy. My opponent has unsuccessfully argued the case for big money in politics, and his claims have all been disproved.
I have rebutted all of his claims, and I look forward to his response.
(Also, I hope I haven't come across as aggressive in this rebuttal. I look forward to your response :) .)
I thank my opponent for his response, and I certainly don't think he's being too aggressive. :)
Let's do this!
P1. Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Certainly, money has some affect on elections, but not so much that we should be willing to amend or violate the constitution to get rid of it.
My opponent cited two sentences from a paper I brought forth as evidence, and proceeded to claim that it showed money has an impact. Essentially, all the paper said was that if you support/don't support certain issues, you may lose votes...
My opponent claims that, since the paper mentioned an example where a candidate's advocacy for an unpopular policy was released by television, that buying air time must be essential to victory. Therefore, more money = winning elections.
.... And he said that I was jumping to conclusions.
Remember, the three extremely credible authors of the same paper that he just quoted to "prove" that point all say that money doesn't affect politics in any significant way.
Yes, sure you can get a little extra airtime with a lot of donations, but the bottom line is that people care more about what you're saying than how many times you've said it.
My opponent said the fact that the we have a 2 party system shows us that money does have an impact. But to say that the two party system exist because the parties have so much money is to ignore other factors (e.g. Strategic Voting, and the fact that third party candidates DO get elected).
Next, my opponent states that lobbyists have somehow lost their status as "people" when they accept corporate donations. I fail to see the connection. Corporations also are made up of people. But corporations don't donate as much as you might think, anyways.
Professor Michael Kang (PhD in government from Harvard) says why. "Even before BCRA and even where more express corporate electioneering was permitted, corporations tended not to spend heavily on campaigning, at least not near levels feared by Citizens United's many critics. As one professor of corporate governance noted, "Getting into politics means picking fights . . . . And picking fights is generally what companies don't want to do."
Again, special interest groups are merely a collection of concerned citizens who raise money to support candidates for the cause they feel strongly about. That's prefectly reasonable, perfectly legal, and not a problem.
So don't buy the conspiracy theories of people, such as Gary Younge (who has no credentials or education on the subject), when they try to scare you with quotes like the one Pro provided. I've listed many professors and PhDs, along with peer reviewed journals and papers, all stating that the Campaign Finance system needs no more regulation.
P2. Poor People Problems
So to quote my opponent... "ONLY 0.14% of Americans donate $200 or more to political parties, organisations or candidates." .... So we're supposed to take that as a sign that 99.86% of Americans are unable to donate as much as those 0.14%? That makes little sense.
The information is misleading. First of all, less than 15% of Americans actually donate to campaigns. The number was around 12% in 2004, and jumped to 13% in 2008. So that brings the number up to around 1%. 1% of all donors choose to donate more than $200. This also doesn't mean that those who don't donate more than $200 can't. It just means they chose not to for whatever reason. We can't allow ourselves to just assume that most people can't keep up. Rather, some people just want to donate more. It's their money. They have every right.
Also, to reiterate, I've cited experts and papers that state that small donations are still important and impactful in an election.
Finally, this is all moot, because ultimately votes cannot be bought. This point went unadressed. Essentially, you still get to cast your vote for whoever you want, no matter how much money that person recieved for their campaign. Ads, like was pointed out in the Catholic University Law Review paper, can certainly bring information to light, but ultimately that information only matters because those people support certain issues.
Who cares if the only reason that candidate is on tv is because he recieved $5,000 from someone? If he supports what the people support, they'll vote for him. If he doesn't, they won't. It's really that simple. We don't have to fear the money.
P3. No Mo' Problems
My opponent opens up with an irrelevant statement about the status of Congress. Yes, Congress is largely unresponsive at the moment, but Congress also isn't responsible for removing campaign finance regulation. The Supreme Court is. EWhy? Because it's unconstitutional at its heart. You can't argue with the supreme court.
... But Pro tries to, anyways.
The Supreme Court has ruled several times in the past that "political money cannot be limited", and to do so would be a "violation of the first amendment." They didn't say that "money" was free speech, but "political money". Pro can't both argue that money has a huge impact on elections and say that money shouldn't be protected as speech.
Pro can tell us that the decisions are awful. I'm in agreement that the supreme court doesn't always make the right decision. But we can't implement unconstitutional law. The plan is simply not feasible. In policy debate, we call this a "solvency" argument. The plan may be the best idea in the world (which it isn't, in this case) but you simply can't enact it because something would get in the way. In this case, the supreme court.
The bottom line is this: Your right to donate to a candidate is protected by the first amendment because that's a way for you to express yourself. Sure, some people may talk louder, and the supreme court knows that.
But that's the beauty of our electoral system. It's not about how loud you can talk. It's about what you say.
Whether your a candidate supporting certain issues, or your a person casting your ballot, it's about quality, not quantity.
Everyone gets one vote, and no one can take your vote from you. It's yours. You don't have to fear the money.
The resolution has been negated. I'm looking forward to your response, Pro.
"Certainly, money has some affect on elections, but not so much that we should be willing to amend or violate the constitution to get rid of it."
In that statement, you have conceded a crucial part of the entire debate. Money does indeed have an effect on elections, an incredibly negative effect as I have demonstrated with my previous arguments and I shall reiterate that in a moment. However, I would first like to address the latter part of your statement, where my opponent says "'but not so much that we should be willing to amend or violate the constitution to get rid of it."
We don't necessarily need to do either of those things in order to rid politics of the corruptive influence of money. We need to simply ensure that the definition of 'free speech' remains dissociated from political contributions. This could be achieved through the Supreme Court, through the passage of regulatory bills among many other things. But even if an amendment to the constitution is necessary, what is the harm in it? It would simply, in a certain capacity, implement a clause regarding political contributions and ensure that money is not viewed as free speech. It's simple, and the long and short term benefits would outweigh any cons of implementing such an amendment.
"and the fact that third party candidates DO get elected"
Of course they do. But to suggest that third party candidates can compete on the scale that the 2 major parties do is absurd. How many Independents or third party candidates hold elected offices in the House of Representatives or the Senate? Two, is the answer . Bernie Sanders and Angus King, both Senators, and are the sole independents out of 541 individuals. You cannot deny such two party dominance.
And, a major reason why the two parties are dominant? Money. The abundance of wealth in both party's finances is unrivaled by any other political party, and has allowed the two party system to cement itself . It's an uphill battle for 3rd party candidates, because of the huge expenditures required in order to attain influence, get on ballots and establish your party. But don't take my word for it, Phil Huckleberry, of the Green Party's Ballot Access Committee, said:
"The time, money and energy spent getting on the ballot is more than the time, money and energy spent once we are on the ballot in most of these states," 
Ballot access laws, among many other factors, ensure the two parties remain firm in their dominance of US politics. However, access to ballots and ultimate electoral success is based on a party's ability to spend money on individuals lobbying for access, but ultimately getting the party 'known'. The only successful means to attain such publicity is through the purchase of advertisements. Money clearly plays an important role, and my opponent unfortunately fails to recognise this.
"Next, my opponent states that lobbyists have somehow lost their status as "people" when they accept corporate donations. I fail to see the connection. Corporations also are made up of people. But corporations don't donate as much as you might think, anyways."
No, it appears my opponent missed the point. When lobby groups are influenced so heavily by corporations, whose motivations are based on profit, lobby groups are no longer entirely for it's members, but are fighting for the interests of corporations, typically in a capacity to ensure that such a corporate donor remains profitable. THAT, is when they lose their status as 'people'.
"Lobby groups represent the views of their corporate donors often more frequently than the views of individual members to such organisations. Perhaps the greatest culprit of such acts is the NRA." 
"I've listed many professors and PhDs, along with peer reviewed journals and papers, all stating that the Campaign Finance system needs no more regulation."
You've listed a sole journal, which is not peer reviewed (nor would an article be with an opinionated slant), whose conslusions as I have reiterated many times are false, due to their ridiculous assumptions. My opponent has also listed various opinion articles. But ultimately my sources showing hard evidence (Campaign Finance Institute) demonstrating the money going to various candidates and their succeeding policy actions shows unquestionably the influence of money on politicians.
Money has a clear influence on politics. You cannot deny this. That's how bribery works. By stopping campaign financing from being effectively implemented, you're essentally ensuring large scale bribery to take place.
In the words of Robert C. Byrd, Democratic Senator from 1959 to 2010:
"It is money, money, money, money! Not ideas, not principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics!" 
"This also doesn't mean that those who don't donate more than $200 can't."
Many who did not donate did so for various reasons, but the vast majority of Americans cannot afford such a large expenditure on such an item, which is guaranteed to win over no influence and achieve very little. The average American earns $49,638 per year . To many, (and clearly to many who earn less than the afformentioned figure), $200 campaign contribution is unaffordable. And, particularly the lower class, cannot possiby spend money in such a manner. This further shows why money in politics is a bad thing, because the poor could not possibly begin to have any influence over political candidates and incumbents, making their desires in Congress significantly less important.
"Also, to reiterate, I've cited experts and papers that state that small donations are still important and impactful in an election."
No, Con simply hasn't. Again, I return to the paper Con cited, from the Catholic University Law Review, the sole paper which you have cited when discussing the Cons associated with CFR, it states that:
"Campaign contributions remaining meaningful for the individual who chooses to contribute." 
Your view contradicts the paper you cite. They're meaningful, but only to the individual. To the party, to the candidate and in the broad scale, a $5 donation has no effect or sway on policy. A $500 000 donation would allow an individual to get a politician's attention.
My opponents fails to see the correlation between the unresponsiveness of Congress and the deregulation of campaign financing.
"Yes, Congress is largely unresponsive at the moment, but Congress also isn't responsible for removing campaign finance regulation"
Why does this matter?
"You can't argue with the Supreme Court."
Of course you can. As I have explained, an amendment to the constitution would achieve the appropriate regulation of campaign contributions. It's called democracy. As you have said in the past, the Supreme Court doesn't always make the right decision.
The removal of money's influence in politics carries so many benefits. There are simply no issues raised when money is removed from the political sphere, none which Con has brought up. 'Political expression', which my opponent finds so important, is expressed through the vote. A means by which everyone has an equal say.
Money in politics has a clear and dangerous influence upon politicians. In order for our Representative Democracy to appropriately represent all people, campaign financing must be heavily regulated. I have proved that money corrupts (P1), I have demonstrated that the rest of America can't keep up (P2) and that the regulation of this money helps solve the problem (P3).
JustinAMoffatt forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
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