Colbert on SuperPacs

So the basic question, after watching this, is this: does it REALLY matter that campaign finance restrictions are ineffective?  Put it another way: should campaign donations be limited?  And even if they should be limited, CAN they be limited?  Or will donors always find loopholes?  Your comments, please…

19 responses to “Colbert on SuperPacs”

  1. roryblock1 says :

    Campaign donations should be limited, yes, even if limiting them is ineffective. While some people go around the law, their are those who are honest and abide by it. It’s like asking if their should be a drinking age. Yes, it’s kind of ineffective as many people underage drink, anyways. But without it, access to alcohol for young people would be MUCH greater and more young people would drink. So, while it may be ineffective, it isn’t completely so. Yes, donors will always find loopholes. But leaving them to spend time and energy finding loopholes is much better than making it easy for them by not limiting.

  2. natek7 says :

    I don’t think that donations should be limited. People should be able to donate as much of their money as they want. Restrictions will not stop donors from donating because there will always be a loophole. Having more money than the other candidate does not guarantee a win. In the Connecticut Senate race Linda McMahon spent much more than her opponent but still lost by 12 points.

  3. Paul1 says :

    Although there will always be people who circumvent campaign finance restrictions, that does not mean that restrictions should simply be done away with–Rory’s example is a good one. Consider how much has been said about the torrent of political advertisements during these past 2012 elections. The focus of many campaigns shifted from establishing candidates’ ideal to simply defending themselves against attack advertisements. Increased funding restrictions, especially on SuperPacs–the entities being most blamed for the waves of negative ads–could hopefully shift campaign focus more towards the positive side.

  4. emmar4 says :

    I agree with Rory and Paul- I think that limits, although they sometimes can be ineffective, are important. With limits, all candidates have (in theory) the same opportunity to raise money and get donations. Also, with a fair amount of limits loopholes will always be present, and like Rory said, making it harder and against the law to find loopholes is the better way to go. And, since money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win, limiting the amount of money donated to candidates could help them focus the money they have in areas they feel strongest about, so the public can know what issues they support the most.

  5. benjamin1 says :

    It’s certainly a tough issue to get around, because clearly someone always wants to spend more money that is permitted. What should matter is the effectiveness of unlimited spending. It goes against basic american ideals of equality to establish a system that allows someone to have more of an influence in an election because they have more money. Yeah, we’re a capitalist country, and there’s an inherent separation of wealth, but elections, which are the essence of our democracy, need to be free from the pitfalls of money. Candidates are not products to be advertised and bought by unsuspecting children (in this case voters), they are representatives who must rise to power by their own merits (as deemed by voters). So if there is any reason to believe that binge spending skews the system, it must not be allowed. From there it’s a matter of properly enforcing the limitations.

  6. robhrabchak4 says :

    I believe that campaign donations should be limited and that these restrictions should be enforced strongly. While candidates who outspend their opponents do not always win, spending can certainly affect the polls. The idea of a democracy is that all citizens have an equal say in the process. While we live in a Representative Democracy, this same idea of an equal sharing of power is applicable so it is wrong to allow the wealthy to have a louder voice in elections. There will always be ways around spending restrictions, but I do believe that they are still worth enforcing as best we can.

    • molly4 says :

      I agree with Rob in that wealthy people should have no louder a voice in Democracy than people with fewer resources. Setting and enforcing (as best as possible) limits, will level the playing field, so to speak. Furthermore, with unlimited amounts of money spent on advertisements, the race becomes a battle for which candidate can attack his opponent more ruthlessly. Advertisements should not take over the race so much so that voters cannot distinguish between the candidates and the horrible pictures of them painted by their opponents.

  7. mattgiannottione says :

    In a country where the poor are supposed to be just as equally represented as the rich, restrictions on campaign financing are a necessity. The restrictions are centered towards the rich because they have more of an ability to influence an election. Loopholes are the issue. I feel that the Federal Election Commission should not just respond to loopholes after they are discovered, but to anticipate them before they happen in order to make the campaign funding of this countries elections more sound and fair. Colbert made a good point in the video that some very influential donors are incredibly “shady.” We shouldn’t have people who hide in the shadows determine an election.

  8. nicoleb7 says :

    I believe there should absolutely be a restriction on how much someone can donate to a campaign. I agree with Rory when she says that although restrictions do not completely solve the problem, because people will always find loopholes, they do make it a lot harder to have one person donate a huge amount of money and make a big difference to a campaign. I think this is important because it shouldn’t be about how many rich voters a campaign has. It should be about the issues and where each candidate stands. I think the FEC needs to come up with a better more efficient way to handle the loopholes people find when it comes to donating.

  9. jackb7 says :

    I remember watching this segment live and thinking just how convoluted the process was. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it was 11:30 and I was mentally spent. After watching it again I find that it still seems confusing, but not in the matter of the process. Rather, I’m confused that processes like this are able to transpire. The fact that the head of a SuperPAC is able to shift his or her funds through other monetary subsets, such as a 501 (c)(4), ultimately resulting the head retaining all of the funds raised (that weren’t spent) without leaving any kind of paper trail or the need to inform the IRS is frankly a little bit frightening to me. And while there is a need for donation restrictions, this is just another example of loophole politics, a process that won’t go away so long as restrictions and regulations are in place.

  10. Jen1 says :

    The Washington Post had an article about super PACs and the Democratic Party today:
    Honestly, I think we’ve come a long way with transparency on election donations. There’s a lot less of this “shady” money because of new regulations compared to the past. I also agree with many of my classmates that regulations should not be reduced. In fact, with the system continuing to change, we need more.
    I don’t understand the logic of having the significant difference of guidelines from individual donations to PAC donations. I understand money=voice, so I’m not suggesting a cap on how much super PACs can donate. Instead, I think there should be more transparency, equal to that of the individual donation.
    It doesn’t make that much sense to limit how much people can donate if they’ve set their mind on donating. Loopholes will be loopholes. But making the names of donators within a PAC public, we can come to understand where the “shady” money is coming from.

  11. bump7 says :

    As elections get larger so will the technology in which people can show ads. This technology will continue to climb in expenses and parties will either be forced to rise more money or create less ads. Therefore I believe there should be no limits on funding for an election, ads and cash-flow are an essential component to the election process. People are going to continue to find loopholes in the system and they will continue to create pacs, super pacs, or non-profit organizations in order to help their party. I see it as, if they feel that passionate about the cause and their political views they should not be limited to the amount of money they can give to their cause. The money is their own personal property and they should be able to use it as they wish.

  12. megweck1 says :

    Campaign fund restrictions come down to whether freedom or equality is desired. On the one hand, having no restrictions would mean true freedom. But to have true equality, there cannot be extreme amounts of money being supplied to one candidate from a PAC. In regards to a presidential race (or any race), I think equality is the more important value here. It is important to make the playing field fair for both candidates.

  13. langston4 says :

    I think that there shouldn’t be restrictions on donations to campaigns. If a person or corporation really wants to support a candidate, then why should the government tell them how much money a person can give. After all, its their money right? It only becomes a major problem if companies are using donations to “buy” candidates to support their interests. Other than that, people should be free to donate as much as they want.

  14. marytravers4 says :

    I agree with Ben and Meg. While I generally believe government policy shouldn’t control the lives and decisions of citizens, in this case, I think the importance of equality trumps that belief. With a large socioeconomic gap in supporters of different parties, it’s only fair to make restrictions on monetary donations. If we’re focusing only on people’s freedom as some people above suggested, why do we bother putting in place other voting regulations? In the defining democratic process of our nation, everything is endeavoring to insure equality.

  15. nyle4 says :

    There should be no restrictions on campaign contributions from individuals, corporations, the candidate themselves, etc. It is not any other person’s or institution’s decision of how private people and groups spend their own money. Good advertising is just the commercial that best sums up the opinions and feelings of the majority of the people in the county, state, or country’s you are campaigning in, and isn’t that what democracy is about after all?

  16. iqra07 says :

    As Rory and so many other people have said, restrictions are important even though people can find loopholes around them. Not having restrictions would allow the rich to donate as much money as they please, while those who aren’t as wealthy can only watch as the gap between their candidate’s and his opponent’s funs continues to grow. It’s not right for elections to be sold and bought. A person’s influence in politics should not be dependent on how much money they have in the bag. Our government is built upon the ideal of everyone, no matter how rich or poor, having an equal say in what the government does and who leads it.

  17. sophiae7 says :

    It is important to have restrictions on campaign donations. Even if it doesn’t solve the problem, it still helps by letting people know that the government does believe that people shouldn’t be able to “buy” elections. Like many other people have stated, campaigns should not amount to being able to find the richest people to donate to them. This issue reminds me of the time when a professor at MIT, who specializes in building prosthetics, came to talk at PDS as a part of the “Pioneer in Science” program. Many people walked away from that assembly wondering if the best athletes would be a result of what body parts/prosthetics they could buy or “true” athletic talent. Just like many people thought it was wrong for sports to go down this direction, I believe that it is wrong for money to “buy” elections.

  18. Ellen7 says :

    Truthfully I do not think there should be restrictions on campaign donations. While I understand the argument that it’s unfair for people to have more of an impact on democracy and the government just because of their wealth, I don’t see the necessity for there to be restrictions on these donations. By giving money to a campaign, it is not doing all that much to benefit the wealthy person themselves. For all we know, a wealthy person could donate a large sum of money to a campaign, contributing to the success of its respective candidate which in turn ends up benefitting those less fortunate. Considering that candidates need money toward their campaign from somewhere and there are people out there that are willing to donate that money, these people should be able to. How is donating to a campaign worse (or more unfair) than deciding to give money to another cause? Is it not comparable to a wealthier family giving large amounts of money to a college or university in hopes that it will help the admission of their child? This too, is only an option to families that are well off and is a disadvantage to families without this money, but regardless, this is their money and they can do with it what they wish.

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