Ezra Klein: Lawmakers hate fundraising, but not as much as they hate campaign-finance reform

In a November 1 blog post, Ezra Klein interviews Senator Evan Bayh, who is retiring this year. Klein writes,

He didn’t lose his race, and he wasn’t down in the polls. He’s just, well, leaving. And one of the reasons is that he’s tired of raising money.

As Bayh sees it, the worst consequence of lawmakers spending 90% of their time fundraising is that they can’t spend time with their constituents or with public-policy experts. Klein asks,

So, why don’t the politicians do something about it? If raising money is so miserable and corrupting and distracting and discrediting, why not publicly finance campaigns? Or strip away the anonymity of outside groups? Or pass a bill that matches small-donor contributions, thus making it easier for politicians to fund their candidacies by exciting voters rather than lobbyists?

The reason is, of course, that the politicians who would have to change the system are the same ones who have succeeded in that system. When asked whether he sees any hope for reform, Bayh replied,

“There’ll be a major scandal at some point that’ll shock the public. It’ll be worse than what happened with Abramoff. And at that point, the system will be changed.”

About Hamilton Richards

I retired in 2006 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. These days I volunteer technical support for Citizens' Climate Lobby (Austin chapter), Common Ground for Texans, (CG4Tx.org), Integrity Texas (IntegrityTexas.org), and several friends.
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