Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Don’t Show Them the Money

The Opinionator

Justin Fox, Time’s business and economics columnist, proposes a way to end the fund-raising arms race among presidential candidates: “The solution here is so simple: We just have to keep campaign finance data secret,” Fox writes at The Curious Capitalist, his Time blog. “Then candidates would worry far less about how much money they’d raised, and would spend far less time trying to raise it.”

Fox adds, “I’m kidding about this, I think.” Yale law professor Ian Ayres and Stanford economist Jeremy Bulow were not kidding, however, when they proposed in a 1998 Stanford Law Review article that all donations to political campaigns should be required by law to be anonymous. (Read this Boston Review essay for a condensed version of their argument.)

  • “If Bush continues to view standing alone as the highest form of principle, he will never escape the dead end into which he’s steered his second term,” writes Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein.

  • The latest apocalyptic sign for conservatism: Jonah Goldberg, in his Los Angeles Times column, is reduced to the Adlai Stevensonesque argument that the electorate is stupid. (Call it a market failure!)

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    G.O.P. Signs of a Rotten Core

    The Wall Street Journal editorial page says this month’s F.B.I. raids of the home of Rep. John Doolittle of California and the family business of Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi, both Republicans, are “the residue of the G.O.P.’s lost, arrogant Congressional majority [$], which allowed its principles to atrophy. If the Republicans hope to retake Congress in 2008, they’d do well to eliminate the habits that created these scandals in the first place.”

    Doolittle and Renzi “resigned from their prominent committee posts at Appropriations and Intelligence, respectively, at least until the matters are resolved,” the Journal editorial adds. “The move was a promising sign that the Republicans are serious about changing their ways. But we wonder why similar pressure wasn’t exerted against others suspected of ethical transgressions.”

    The editorial cites two other California congressmen, Rep. Jerry Lewis, who faces allegations that he “directed hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarked funds to his friends and political allies,” and Rep. Garry Miller, who is under investigation for possibly failing “to properly report several lucrative land deals,” as members of Congress who should be removed from their committees (Appropriations and Financial Services, respectively) until cleared of wrongdoing (or not).

    The editorial concludes:

    No doubt there are other instances of lax ethical enforcement, which is precisely the sort of passivity that cost the Republican majority in the last election. The GOP has the opportunity to reclaim the Congress next year, but this is a perishable fruit. It will rot fast if the party is still in thrall to the status quo ante.

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