tv Money in Politics CSPAN August 4, 2012 11:25am-12:45pm EDT
the basic essence of our democracy. that is our our elected officials able to make decisions based on what is in the public interest? or does money prevent them from making decisions that affect people in their daily lives? the amount and volume and intensity of money affecting public policy -- simply put, does it by vote? does it by outcomes? if it does not, why is it given? why are people putting this huge amount of money into our political system other than trying to influence the course of history and the direction of our government? the other thing is how does it affect the issue of stability? a full-page ad by the knights of columbus -- help us men the tone
of american politics. a lot of folks are not talking about tone, stability. respect for institution, how the public views government. the question is, how does money, the intensity, the volume, and the relationship between money and lots of negative advertising impact how the public views our political system? is it different than before? our panelists can give us a perspective on these things, as well. this is an important topic. i want to turn things over to my co-moderator. >> thank you. non- introduce the panel. -- let me introduce the panel. michael is a professor of political science at the state university of new york. he has written in books and academic articles as well as popular articles on campaign
finance as well as other topics on congress and institutions. bob is the senior fellow at the center for responsive politics. formerly, he was special assistant to a staff director at the federal election commission, where he spent 30 years really knowing the numbers from the inside and now we are hoping he can tell us from the outside what really is going on. rob is a partner who heads of the election and political law practice group. he has clients across different parts of the political world. you work more on the republican side, i think? and eliza is staff writer at "cq" where she covers campaign
finance. she spent a significant amount of time writing on those issues for "national journal became -- "national journal." we will ask some questions very broadly to start off. we will let the panelists tell us what the landscape is for campaign finance this cycle. what is new? what is significant? we will have some back and forth. then we will turn to you. let us begin with michael and ask you -- let me plug a couple of reports that have just come out from the campaign finance institute. one literally off the presses on the national parties. the other one at the end of last week on the presidential the nation's from the second quarter. -- donations from the second quarter. michael has put them into
context. i am not asking you to summarize reports, but i want to ask you what is new this cycle? what is big? what is different? where are we going? >> sherer. thank you. thank you for asking me to be part of this. i will give a really big for an overview of what is important. help from the conversation. i will do the national party's record. for those who are catching this on video, you can get it at www. campaign no say -- campaignfinanceinstitute.org. i am not going to go through the details.
some of the big conclusions are worth mentioning. we will look at the table numbers 2, 4, and 5 which compare political party seats over time. we will look to the amount of money and resources. t the framme, the bipartisan reform act -- mccain- feingold put contribution limits on money that parties taken. because table four and five go back to 2000, it lets you see that after mccain-feingold, the party is managed very quickly to replace all the soft money they lost. mccain-feingold did no harm to the political parties. they did this through three devices. one, they got a lot more support
from small donors. two, the committee's collected more from members of congress. 3, the dnc and rnc got help from the presidential candidates. as a result, or because of it, the parties became the most important players in congressional elections. in the closing months, the parties were spending more in competitive districts then the candidates, other groups, through most of the decade. the situation looks different here. the parties are still raising a lot of money. almost all of the money comes from the national committee and most of that can be attributed to a fund-raising committees. if you look at the dnc, you the
amount of money form small donors is -- you see the economy from small donors is about the same. the amount coming from $30,000 plus donors is up 42% of the total. that is through the president to a joint fund-raising mostly. the congressional party still a different story. hear, the sources of funding have not changed. the level has not changed. the senate are down a little bit. if yes what this means in an election -- if you ask what this means in an election, the party received our level, but the rest of the world is changing a lot. i know bobble talk about independent spending from non- party group. if they raise the same amount and the rest of the world changes, that means less power relatively for the parties.
we should talk about what that means. rather than be doing that, i am going to say what does that say about policy questions? should anything be done about that? what should the future agenda be? i can start by saying as a matter of advertisement that a lot of people will be doing a lot of thinking about what the future ought to be. there is a lot of thought that yet has to occur. broadly, what we are hearing are two different kinds of answers. on the one side, we hear people who say let us have unlimited contributions and then the money will go to the parties in candidates. well, i think that would probably do away with or affect candidate's specific superpacs,
but i do not think that will deal with the major driving engine. the other side says everything flows from the supreme court citizens united decision. let us amend the constitution. i personally do not fall on either of those camps. i think that i support contribution limits in amending the constitution is problematic. i also think that by stressing this point so much, we miss how much of what is going on relates to policy that is not constitutional level. it is statutory, regulatory. i will give a couple of examples and then i will move on. s candidates s -- kendeigh-pacific superpacs grow out of loose definitions of what counts as coordinated
spending. there is nothing in the constitution that would prevent a policy maker from redefining that. constitution would clearly not only allow, but the supreme court has encouraged extended disclosure. internal revenue service fully within the constitution is looking at the non-profit associations. there are many other ideas under consideration including the aid.ical parties' the court has clearly upheld the constitutionality of public financing. as i have co-authored articles that mention the strengths of matching funds to reinforce the role of small donors, the experience in new york city scammed the extent to which these -- and the extent to which these programs work, they bring
in more people, they change the incentives for candidates, the change the mix of people. candidates have an incentive for a poor neighborhoods. governor cuomo has introduced an idea that has a pretty good chance of passing that would extend the new york city style programs and most of the federal bills on the agenda. they include something that looks like the new york city board of the program. not much chance of anything happening on the federal level. a pretty good chance that there will be action in a lot of states. i think that will help set policy conversation agendas for the future and having set an agenda, that is a good place for me to let this conversation move forward. >> bob, you are the one we said way to.
two of my former constituents were charles and david koch. everybody thinks i am close with this family although they worked different with me. -- against me. can you talk about independent andnditures, 501c4's, other forms of soft money? what are the trends showing? >> in no way, this is a disadvantage because most of us do not hear about this. i will outline it. we will talk about the subtext you mentioned. in this election cycle we have seen an explosion of expenditures. these are advertising, messages, communications with voters in specifically at supporting or
opposing identified the candidates for federal office. more than $200 million has been spent on independent expenditures in this cycle. that is everybody kind. -- everybody combined. i want to stop there for a minute into because i am old and i have seen many cycles of campaign finance activity, i wanted to pull back and look at how that compares to a similar kinds of activities. in some cases, very similar in the past. during the 90's, the same kind of huge contributions from individuals and corporations have been. -- were acceptable. they could not use it for independent expenditures. they could not say this is for the candidate, but they could run issue advocacy kinds of
advertising, which really got to the same in a result. the message was clear to voters. we have been there with that context. after mccain-feingold, we saw the growth of other kinds of organizations. in a similar kind of way. messages that encourage voters to not be stupid. i spent some time this spring looking back to compare the levels of activity for those kinds of things. i wanted to get a sense whether or not this phenomenon in 2012 was actually so much change or was it just a kind of a definitional thing where we
defined the activity now as independent expenditures in before it was something more complex or more esoteric. during the spring, it seemed to be the case that there was not huge growth in the activity. if you compared it with the 1990's -- that has changed in the last couple of months. if you remember back to those days, the parties were increasingly successful in raising this kind of money over the years. you could apply that trend line for soft money activity. if you took that in 2002 and extended it for 10 years, you would come very close to where we are today. in some respects, you might say that the world has changed a lot. it is where we might have been otherwise. that is true as long as you stand another definition.
we talk about the information actually reported to someone. one of the problems with understanding these kinds of activities, whether it is campaign finance or other context, is that we define -- understand the information and so we follow those specific values. even though it may be that the activities go beyond that. it has migrated in another way. in this year, the examples of that are the 501c4 organizations doing the same kind of messages. these issue advocacy kinds of campaigns, including a very elaborate media campaigns in state and throughout the country, where there is no reporting. it has been defined at a way in
mccain-feingold on the basis of what is causing some indication. you have to report these things if they are within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of the general election. there are estimate-based on tracking -- estimates based on tracking of media. that is $70 million. just in the presidential context in that kind of activity. there are philosophical reasons why those questions exist. merkel -- there are important. i do not want to diminish that. that is an important consideration. this same kind of activity focused on campaign in a direct way has increased the level of activity by a least a factor of a third. over and above what we see routinely reported.
whenever we have these issues of how much money there is and how it is used, the devil is in the details. in both the context of how we define the activities andow we understand what is actually happening. they can be pretty different things. it is an example of the problem with the regulatory system being as important as the constitutional questions in terms of how we end up understanding what is happening. >> one quick follow-up. you made the case that there was a lot of money that might be called independent in the past that was going to the parties. almost by definition, money could not have gone to primaries when they went to the parties. a lot more money being spent now with the independent expenditures in primaries. >> yes. it is an interesting phenomenon. certainly, in the presidential context that was a key part of
the republican campaign. how much independent spending there was. kept a couple of campaigns alive longer than they would have otherwise. it has an important role. it gives people choices they would not have had . we will see today in a simple in the texas senate race where a candidate who really was not considered to be viable just a few months ago because of the timing of the election, very aggressively. it looks like ted crews might be successful. sometimes it is support from the members whofamily could not give unlimited contributions. sometimes it is groups that are philosophically devoted to having competition in primary.
-- primaries. the committee for primary accountability spend money on both sides. on the basis that there are a lot of -- if you want competition and change and candidates to be responding to their constituencies, the place to be active is in the primary. they look for safe candidates who were not paying attention to folks back home. they tried to find a viable opportunity and support what they thought was that opportunity across party lines. it has had the effect of making these primaries more interesting and competitive, but also more polarized. >> i think we want to come back to that question. let me turn to rob. maybe you could play out changes
in the legal landscape and what has been significant. i know people focus on citizens united as a game changer. there are many cases. many significant issues. what is different this round? >> well, i really want to go back to the 2003 because the reality is although there has been some change in the legal landscape, by far, the most dramatic change in the campaign finance system was the mccain- feingold law. it was enacted in 2002, upheld by the supreme court in 2003. if fundamentally changed the way our campaign finance system works. i was surprised by some of the ways in which michael characterized the data, michael malbin.
what you will see is only today in the 2012 presidential cycle, are the political parties just buy a little bit exceeding where they were in 2002, the 2002 cycle, which was in off-your election. just now, the parties are pulling themselves off the map. the mccain-feingold deprived them of soft money. what mccain-feingold did is it shifted the weight of our campaign finance system away from the national political parties and towards outside groups. this was widely predicted by the critics of the mccain- feingold law. hat we are see is tjha reaping the world with set in motion by mccain-feingold. it is true that the parties are
now doing a better job in raising money and there has been an uptick since the last presidential election cycle in absolute terms. in relative terms, the parties are being left in the dust by the outside groups. that has had a dramatic affect on our political system in good ways in bad ways. the positive the effect has been that this is the most competitive, turbulent, vibrant election we have had in this country since thisthe federal like jim -- since before the federal election and the early years of the 20th century. tremendous increase in the competitiveness of this election both in the primaries and now even in the general election. a much greater pluralism of each in this election and that is a positive development that ouside
groups and contributed -- have contributed to pick it is unhealthy. the political parties traditionally are moderating influences. when you move the money away from the political parties to the outside groups, you tend to radicalize the system and we hav trend.een that it has become a long-term trend. this is an unhappy example where the campaign finance laws are not just affecting money, but they are affecting politics in a profound way. there is a reason we see more extreme groups, much more prominently involved in the political process this year than was true in the past. there are those competing trends, one of which is unhealthy. the other is healthy and a value
judgment where you come down as to the relative benefits. citizens united was someone important and there have been other recent court and regulatory decisions that were somewhere -- someone important, none of them had near the impact today as mccain-feingold. >> so, i want to ask eliza this, cover of "thehe oce hill" magazine. i am not sure he would necessarily agree he is anxious, but you could take obama out and put any elected official in our country in that place. from romney all the way down to hundreds of members of congress and challengers to them. they all seem to be seema false -- seem to be planning a fall fund-raising's breed. you have covered these elections for a long time. how do you see these
developments affecting campaigns? >> in part, the anxiety that the president probably jdoes feel is due to the notion that the biggest change goes back to 2003 when the law was enacted. certainly, that law was important. i think that candidates and parties and activists felt it was merely as dramatic as citizens united. i think if you talk to people who are out there in campaigns, they are really boiled over. they do not see this election as being comparable to any campaign before. it is that part -- it is the first presidential race and citizens united was enacted and it has changed things. not only do we have this growth and superpacs, but the
empowerment of taxes. one of the things that is overlooked sometimes is citizens united did not just the regulate corporate spending, but also any inc. groups, including a non-profit. there is a greater reason for 501c4 groups to spend politically. i am not making recommendations for solutions, but i do not think that the numbers really lie and there are important reports that really illustrates the shift here. the center for responsive politics and public integrity analyzed the numbers from 2010 and concluded that outside groups that do not disclose their contributions outspend those which do by 3 to 2. we are seeing that again in 2012. this is not a scientific
analysis, but if you look at independent expenditure so far by superpacs, it is about $135 million on campaign-related expenditures. if you look at undisclosed campaign expenditures, yesterday there was analysis because you cannot actually analyze these expenditures in the same way because they are non-profit groups and they do not disclose on the same level. they looked reports from groups that follow broadcasts and tax records and all sorts of things and we came up with $172 million so far. that tells you -- recognizing these are not definitive numbers, even an off-the-cuff estimate suggests that undisclosed expenditures are now vastly outpacing disclosed expenditures. just to go to the implications, i think without imposing a value judgment, there are definite dangers to this, both for political players and for voters
and candidates. i think the danger really is absence of transparency and accountability. i think some corporate spenders are already feeling this. groups that have been treated to the chamber of commerce. some of them are feeling public relations blow back. there are corporate leaders who are very concerned about the public-relations fallout from their political expenditures. there might even be some kind of self correcting down the road that has nothing to do with new laws or new regulations or constitutional amendments. some corporate spenders might simply say, this is too much risk. the risk for us as journalists and citizens and voters is that we might not be able to follow the money, which is not something the supreme court intended. we all know that the court came down 8 to 1 in favor of full disclosure. i think disclosure is the key issue going forward and i think all roads lead to the irs.
that is a kind of tricky place for the road to leave. as we all know, nobody wants irs to go after outside players. republicans on capitol hill are very worried that the irs has already sort of towson -- sort of showed signs of going after political groups. they have written letters to them telling them not to do it. u.s. groups like the aclu don't like the disclose act because they think it would chill activism by outside groups. these are tricky questions. i recommend people really set aside ideological answers and start to really grapple with these tough questions. to what degree can we regulate activity by nonprofit groups that appears to be political?
it might actually be advocacy in a more legitimate context. >> there are many corporations beginning to face a ballot access proposals by shareholders. some of them relates to how they spend their money for political purposes. that may be free market working. trying to deal with this issue. i do not know how effective it will be but that points out what you talked about. >> i am to follow-up about disclosure. three things about disclosure. the republican position on disclosure used to be pretty universally that disclosure was a good thing. it was a good thing. now, there is a philosophical fargument being made much more strongly about maybe some contribution to not be
disclosed. maybe there are groups that do not speak as freely because they feel they will be castigated. what about the interest of companies, groups, those who do not want their money to be disclosed? there is a principal and interest. we can take up -- if political parties and candidates had more freedom -- if there was more freedom to give to them, with undisclosed money flow there? is it just sitting out there because individuals and interest groups want some money to be spent, but they do not want accountability. what it actually go as accountable hard money to parties and candidates if it were disclosed? i open it up to anyone who wants to weigh in. >> i thought it was interesting that eliza said that data shows more money being spent by the
outside groups that do not have to disclose activity. 501c6's.nd that highlights the relative insignificance of the citizens united deal because that activity took place before citizens united in the same kind of way. it takes place after citizens united. the irony is that citizens united allows for disclosed groups, superpacs that have to report every penny, and we see the bulk of the money flowing away from those disclosed group to the undisclosed groups and that is the trend that id date back to -- i date back to mccain-feingold. that trend has been on upper trajectory and it will not stop. if you change the rules so that candidates could raise this kind of money, political parties could raise unlimited money,
political parties could coordinate their activities with candidates, that would all be disclosed money. the candidates and the political parties are with in the fec's disclosure regime. that is where we want the money to be. mccain-feingold has forced the money outside of the fec regime. and into these outside groups. that is where the bulk of the money is going. not to the superpacs. >> if there was a reason why those restrictions were put in place rechecked it depends on whether you -- it depends on whether you think this is bribery or extortion. [laughter] during that time i would go and give presentations to groups,
and after the sessions in the hall of the hotel, people were constantly coming up to me saying can you not just put a stop to this because i'm getting strong-armed by these people in congress or the a administration. it meant no difference. it was not so much that there was pent-up corporate or institutional interest in participating financially, but you had party leaders acting as a concierge at the white house, willing to provide a sleepover for a certain amount of money, or leaders who wanted to get $1 million for the congressional campaign. that was an environment the congress decided was not a tenable. >> how come the money is still flowing, bob? >> it is not the same money.
one of the conclusions many are surprised by is there is not a flood of corporate money. >> of course there is not. it is disclosed, right? >> even at the levels that we see, it is not a flood. >> but it is not disclosed. we do not know where it is coming from. >> that is a problem. >> it could be coming from corporations. >>-sure in some cases it is. >> thank you. just to go back to the notion that this dates back to mccain- feingold more than citizens united, it is true that outside spending was happening in 2008 and 2010, but before 2003, it was disclosed, and in 2004 it was this close to the irs. it is the disclosure that i see
as big dramatic change post- citizens united. there are suggestions that we relaxed the limits on candidates, and problems with that. one is the statement that you made, that the supreme court has said we are permitted to regulate the nation's based of the appearance of corruption. i am not sure this conservative supreme court would go as far to say we should end contribution limits. that is one question. if disclosure of leads to discrimination and harassment, why are candidates not intimidated and harassed? if you buy the argument, you would not have disclosure for the candidates in different parties. people are saying these outside groups are extensions of the campaign.
again, to go back to the supreme court, the supreme court has said it is ok and constitutionally protected to have a boycott. so far, attempts to not back disclosure laws, for example in ballot initiatives, have not withstood court muster. i am not raising a value judgment but i raise the question as to whether the court would agree it is intimidation and harassment. >> item going to ask a question -- -point to ask questions, and looking around i am the only person that has actually received a campaign contribution. how has this effected the behavior of the people receiving the money? is there any data that shows? after all, the essence is
constitutional, effective, proper and legal, but the impact is whether the people who are getting the money are serving the public or not serving the public. one of the things i do not see is how it effects the behavior of politicians. robert biersack. >> there are two ways people are behaving. there has been a lot of studies. people like to point out there is no demonstrable effect on public in visible activities like roll-call votes. the dispute is about how much you can see in roll-call votes. that is a place you least expect to see an effect. what you have in studies is demonstrable agenda setting effects.
people who say we should not get into this problem because it will hurt us with this set of donors. i have so many good things to spend my time and, do i really want to go there? there is a new book of looking at state legislatures. this is thoroughly demonstrated. the people that bother showing up a subcommittee hearings, you can clearly tie this to contributions. others probably want to play in the this, but i want to respond to the -- weigh in on this, but i also want to respond to the left point on this. just a quick factual thing on bob said it was a lot of the same old lines, robert biersack
in this case, the one thing that is new and not president is the independent spending commit -- president is the independence and the -- spending committee as an extension of the candidate. that is new. that is basically blowing away contribution limits. we need to talk about that. that is really about seeing value in contribution limits. if you do not, the committee's are thick leaves made out of some sort of material. i do see contributions. i think there was plenty of documented evidence of quasi- extortion during the soft money period and before watergate, and i think that is a problem, and it is a problem different than
truly independent spending. did mccain-feingold drive all of this money to the other system? i do not see it. there were not disclosed -- you cannot draw tramlines with an undisclosed money -- trend lines with none disclosed monday. what you do see is -- and disclosed monday. were you do see is 2000 was the high point. people raise money because they were anticipating mccain- feingold, but people came back in 2004 to the 2000 level. they came back in 2006. i agree that it is important to be concerned about parties. i agree that we ought to think about ways of letting parties do more, but i would argue that
should be done, or i would ask to explore how that can be done in a manner consistent with limited contributions to control the other demonstrated facts of quasi-extortion that did exist. >> somebody want to weigh in on the quick pro quo question raised? >> it is not just a pro crow question. his behavior that fear region because of fear nobody wants to do it compared >> i'm sure i am not the only one on the pedal that read mechanical -- mcconnell-sec. there is great reading there. there are all lot of politicians that said this system stinks. it might not read like classical definition of corruption, but they knew it was not right. they were running into fund-
raising events where my-donors with him them checks so the money -- mega-donors could go in and give them checks and the to go into the coffers of the dnc or the rnc. also, if you talk to candidates and abacus, one of the things that -- advocates, one of the things that shocks them is how early the money is being spent. people are spending at a lot earlier of a phase and that puts a lot of pressure on people and that is why you see headlines like the one you held up that suggests the president is very scared. >> clearly, i do not think anyone would dispute it raises the level of anxiety. you just do not know when a significant amount of money will be in your race and a moment's notice without a lot of advanced
information. it has caused two things to happen. it has extended the campaign. i spent the weekend in ohio, not for political reasons, but it is hard to avoid pockets in ohio. i noticed that sherrod brown, the incumbent senator up for reelection, was very aggressively advertising on television now in mid-to-late july, which is unusual, and he was reacting to an aggressive ad campaign coming from the chamber of commerce, and not his opponent, the rnc, but from an outside group. it has expanded the campaign, perhaps adding to the level of discourse in improving voter information, but certainly it has caused people to spend money they otherwise would not be spending, which means they
have to raise more aggressively from more different sources, and that adds to the cycle. >> my fellow panelists seemed concerned about candidate anxiety. i am not the least bit concerned. there was very little candidate anxiety after the 1970's act, which created a long cost basis in our political system in which incumbents were protected by the high walls established by the federal election campaign act, and by the difficulty campaigners had in raising money in a system fed requires them to raise money in small increments without the help of -- system that requires them to raise money in small increments without the help of institutions. outside groups are helping to bring those walls down, which
creates turbulence, competition, pluralism in the system, all of which are terrifying to incumbents. that is a good thing actually. that is the way democracy is supposed to work. what some analysts have referred to as extortion, i have news for you -- there is still fundraising going on today after mccain-feingold, after citizens united. there is pressure on corporates to put money into the system. they might not hear directly from the kennedy, but they hear from proxy groups -- candidate, but they hear from proxy groups in the view that as essentially the same thing. i also agree that there is a fig leaf notion that there is a separation. we could certainly have a healthy debate about whether we
need a much more clear definition of independence as opposed to ordination, but that has been around for a long time and oddly enough, the campaign finance reform committee does not deeply engage on that a valid question. the supreme court has assumed that expenditures by outside groups would be truly independent and there is an argument to the head there. anxiety among officeholders, i think that is terrific. >> can we have a healthy debate quickly? is anybody want to take up this question? >> i have a kick. reform groups are not happy about this. they have tried to get the sec to take action on this, pressure obama to appoint new people to the ftc, which has
tried to come up with independent risk coronation definitions, and has not succeeded. it is not ignored, but hit it -- it has stymied the federal election commission. do we have a system in pace to police fundraising and -- to police -- in place to police fundraising, and if not, what would take? >> one last question while we get the microphones ready -- can you open your crystal ball and think about the fall. we have not talked about the presidential financing system, which most would agree does not effectively exist anymore, slowly going away in the primaries, and i assume both candidates will not take public money. with both parties raising
money, what will the election looks like? finally, when the congressional races going to look like? -- what are the congressional races going to look like? will they be bombarded by outside money? what is your crystal ball for the fall as we look ahead? >> i am convinced that neither candidate will win or lose the presidency based on a lack of funding support. that does not make sense to me. between the parties, the groups, the campaigns, they will have sufficient resources. you have to remember that a lot of television advertising effects are fairly dissembled in some ways. there used to defining candidates if people are not familiar with them, but the shelf life is short. these candidates are well
defined i think there will be incredible amounts of spending but it will not determine the outcome. >> in congressional races it could make a big difference? >> it may very well. in that small set of 30 or 40 house races, and the six or seven senate races, where control of the chambers is in play, then it can make a difference. >> the future is now. if we want to know what the fall will look like, it is happening now. the ads are often they will stay up. i think the impact will increase further down the ballot, but i think there are congressional and senate races where it could have an impact, and it is important to keep in mind super pacs are spending at the state and local levels, places where an outside group could flip the race completely.
i have my eye on six months after the election. i cannot wait for good data that we can analyze in draw strong conclusions about what these changes have meant. i think we are operating in the realm of the theoretical, and to some degree weather the citizens united ruling had a dramatic impact. i'm looking for a to see how different this election was from those that preceded -- forward to see how different this election was from those that preceded it. >> a huge amount of money is being spent in state and local races. in my home state of kansas, home of koch industries, a significant amount of money is being put into local races. >> eliza, six months after the
election, that's where i want to go. underline the fact even though robert kelner and i have two similar sets of questions, we might not have the same proposals. there needs to be coordination to what constitutes independence. ~ well, we to think seriously about political parties. -- >> -- two, we need to think seriously about the political parties. that needs to be part of the agenda. >> we want to hear from you. we have microphones. >> thank you very much. ian from brookings. you talk about the volume of money, but if money is potentially a problem, and i will take that off of the table
for the question, is it the -- is it the amount of money or gerrymandering the number of districts in play creating a funnel effect, accentuating the problem if there is a problem? how does that play god? >> -- play out? >> i would just say that the redistricting process has been with cause for a while. it has been systematically abused by both political parties to draw political boundaries in their own party's interest. i do not really fault them for that. that is the way the system as currently structured. i think these two things go hand-in-hand. the redistricting process reduces competitiveness. i think the way money functions in the political system has for
some time reduced competitiveness in the system. it would be difficult to disentangle those two effects and judge which is the predominant effect. >> we did some interesting tests in california where there are likely to be competitive races because the districting is different, and that might be true in other states, too. >> we never report coming out on read this -- we have a report coming out on redistricting, and the simple point is there are a few less competitive seats than there were in the last cycle, but it is a similar number. when we are likely to see is because there is a universe of competitive seats, and some of that is due to redistricting, and some just due to close races, there will be a lot of money concentrated on these 30 or 50 races.
i am not sure the districting has exacerbated that as much as it has created a universe of small, competitive districts. the other thing we noted is there are a lot fewer people holding districts that they should not hold. democrats holding strongly republican districts -- that used to be the case not that long ago. here you have to think about the transformation of our political system and primaries, where you have people, where if you are trying to hold a republican district and you're a conservative democrat, you have to look over your left shoulder. here, the money going much more into primaries from their own raising as well as independent groups is significant and it could contribute to polarization. >> it was a good question to ask because it is worth pointing out
that i do not think anyone on this panel -- there are probably people out there in the world, but a much smaller number -- nobody in this panel has said there's too much money spent on political discourse. the conversation has been on sources in fact, candidate effects on this group, but that is a difference conversation. by asking the question you pointed out something that was not said and that is important. >> another part of the room here. >> the gentleman that there. >> there is the microphone. >> yes, king live. -- thank you. i am a howard university student. my question is can a property man and a non-property man become equal through the vote? i thought that is what our
democracy was. when i listen to the conversation today, eliza, i am glad you brought mcconnell verses sec. mcconnell was one of the people for disclosed, he saw good things in that, but when he came -- when it came down to disclose, he voted it down. robert, as you said, you think anxiety is good for and democracy, but if our political, elected officials are anxiously campaigning and not governing for the people, how is that democracy? thank you. >> well, i think the founders intended for us to have a vibrant campaign season. if you look back at american history, before the federal election campaign act in the 1970's we had a long history of competitive races, particularly
house races, and it has been the case for a long time that members of the house are engaged in a continuous campaign because they have a two-year term. i think that is a healthy thing for us. it was disturbing when we reached a point not so long ago that house members felt relatively assured that after they made it through their first term of office and were reelected once that they were basically locked in to that seat for life. because of redistricting, and the way challengers were discouraged. while i understand candidates do not enjoy the process of seeking out support from various constituencies, funds from various constituencies, it is a fundamental and important part of the democratic process. >> as a former office holder and
money raiser myself, today, political viability is the same as the ability to raise money. in large part, over any other quality, certainly by q, experience, wisdom, judgment -- i am not a fool to believe that in a business you need to know how to raise your capital in the product -- public sector, but this is a business of ideas and doing the public interest. if money is the primary criteria, he goes to your criteria, property as opposed to non-property, and it is money the primary criteria for participation in american politics today? that is an important question. >> michael, then eliza. >> the question is a really good one. it is correct that the liability
is the same to raise money. -- viability is the same as the ability to raise money, and it is a lot easier to raise $10,000 from one person than $100 each from 10,000 people. one of the nice things about small boehner matching funds is that without restrictive -- small donor matching funds is that without restrictive regulations -- with the matching fund system does is it gives candidates positive incentives to go into -- into poor neighborhoods and get people to give them $25. this works, and it in franchises people that are not playing. that is a goal to think about.
it is not one that has a distorting effect. >> it is interesting to hear the focus on competition now in the wake of citizens united. i have heard a number of people say the extra money is great because it enhances competition, and what i often think of when i hear that is the analysis i have read about the system. if you want a system that enhances competition, for better or worse, look at how public systems have worked. a lot of people that never ran before party elected. there is higher percentages of women, minorities, ethnic groups holding office than you do in a conventional system. i am not making a value judgment, but in empirical data, i think public financing
would enhance competition more than anything else. >> there are also reasons to be hopeful about the technology, too. we want to read this to be three sources that the money buys -- communication with voters -- we want to redistribute the resources the money buys -- communication with voters. the technological campaign that allowed president obama to be successful in 2008, communicating with voters that do not crowd out the other potential uses of those tools, as that continues there is reason to be hopeful there. >> a question right here. >> my name is george. does the amount of money spent effect the quality of information voters get, positively or negatively?
>> actually, the studies show -- we know that ads distorted. we know very emotional, and unfortunately, we know they are more informative than the news. there is not a negative effect between advertising and levels of information. if anything, it is positive, and that is perhaps surprising. >> anybody else? ok. right here. microphone coming from this direction >> -- direction parent >> edward from "sunshine -- direction. >> edward from sunshine press." -- from "sunshine press."
responding to the money not having any effect -- >> i did not say that. >> well, i'm sure the money i have written about is in three digits, and i'm sure that is true for a lot of people in this town. corruptly influences elections, or it is spent by fools. there is no other way to parse that. my question is this, about 15 years ago the pacific rim economies, the tiger economies sort of collapsed, and a major reason was the government's were bought off. they were not legitimate and their economic successes were not a result of producing more and better widgets, of buying
off the crown or presidency in that country. what do you think will be the effect if big money is able to prevail in our elections over a couple of decades? what will be the effect on america? is it conceivable that when capitalists get their wishes, they destroy themselves as seemed to have happened in the pacific rim economies in 1997? >> this goes to accountability, transparency, and the risk to the business community, which business leaders are already sensitive to. it might be worth looking at a gallop poll that came out yesterday which suggested that for voters, the issue behind
jobs in the economy is corruption in the government. that really surprised me. that suggests voters are concerned about what is happening and it is higher on their radar screen than in previous elections. >> what is so interesting about that survey and others like it, is that over the years the percentage of the public that believes the public -- the government is corrupt and that lacks trust in the government has steadily increased even as we have clamped down on the campaign finance system, with each federation of the reforms and the increased regulation -- iteration of the reforms and the increased regulation of campaign financing, right through mccain- feingold, the have stained -- stayed on a trajectory. it has not reduced the cynicism.
there are levels that have very little to do with campaign finance. >> i expected you to take up the point in this way, you are talking about one-party governments -- the question of competition, and whether the money is really flowing to challengers of outside parties -- that would be one response to this. >> i do not think you can remotely compare our system to the system that prevailed in asia and southeast asia. they have much more significant problems than we do, thank god, and their political systems are nowhere near as transparent and filled with disclosure as ours is. big money, if you want to look at that phrase, has been present in our system from the
founding, and we have survived the low 200 years. >> i would echo what bob iger sec said. modern technology empowers people. i saw that -- robert biersack said. i saw that in the motion picture uprising regarding the issue of what the government should do to deal with film piracy and hundreds of thousands of people petition their government, a respectable but the institutions were doing and prevailed on their members of congress to change positions. that is that a factor we have seen before. we have same pressure on government, but not this instantaneous pressure.
that as bad possibilities because of the facts are wrong it can be destructive and disruptive, but it is in power in force and i do not think they have that in singapore or other countries you are talking about 10 >> i continue to be a bit -- talking about. >> i continue to be amazed. we went through this financial disaster in 2008, 2006, in large part because there was not transparency, huge amounts of money traded among people that did not know who their counterparties where, who the transaction was what, whether they were honest and straightforward about the nature of those transactions, and we've virtually collapsed the system. why we would want a political process where you do not know who the parties to the transaction are, at the end of the day it escapes me. >> we might have times for one
more question, right in the front. let's take two. >> maybe at the same time. >> ok. we will answer them together. >> is this on? what i have is a clarification on the question of television advertising. even in the era of this increased different forms of technology, you know, is still and increasingly the primary means of communication in the campaign. expenditure is increasing at a greater rate than the overall campaign expenditures. the second thing it is, and i think you said this correctly, bob, the advertising in presidential campaigns does not
have as much impact because there are so many other sources of information, and it has enormous impact on races below the level of presidency, where there is no other source of the information, and that is a serious question for the help of american democracy. >> ok. second question, and we will answer them together. >> thank you. larry. i am the sole proprietor. david brooks's this morning in "the times" said this election was boring and consequential, and he mentioned be incredible outpouring of advertising this early is aimed at the uninformed and the uninvolved because the party is seen to be -- to believe and the candidates seem to believe that there are so few
undecided that they're really going after the people that do not pay attention by negative advertising. could you comment not only on what david brooks said, on the undecided and how to move them. >> ok. the significance of lower races, and also on the money, and targeting undecided voters. >> i will quickly note is not just advertising that causes election outcomes. it is also the ground game, and one of the reasons candidates on the left are worried it is they just do not have as much money. conservative outside money is outpacing little outside money by more than three-to-one. if elected labor unions and other types of grass-roots groups, and even democratic
candidates, they are really trying to knock on doors and give voters out that way. groups on the ride are doing the same thing. it will be interesting to see how effective these ads are. some might conclude it was awash in a waste of money. people will try anything to win an election, especially one as close and as high-stakes as this one. >> this is the most micro- targeted election in u.s. history with the technology evolving to the point that both candidates are able to target motors with precision we have never seen -- boaters with precision that we have never seen before, and one of the effects of that is that they are not aiming at the best bulk of the public, but a more narrow demographic and constituencies. on the ground game point, i
heard some celebrating about looking back at six months after the election, but the problem is most of the data will not be there because a lot of the ground game takes place in the undisclosed world, sponsored by 501 c groups that do not have to report activity much of the activity will -- activity. much of the activity will be in visible even to academics or journalist who might want to analyze what actually happened. >> on that note, we will thank you for panelists and close the pedal. thank you. good job. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> "mother jones, call magazine staff reporter in the kroll says the simpson united decision has
changed the nature of campaigns. he will join us to talk about the history of current and financing. you can call or e-mail him on wednesday morning on "washington journal." >> in the weeks ahead, political parties are holding platform hearings in advance of summer conventions but democrats voting next week and on final platform recommendations in detroit. follow in mid-august as republicans start their campaign focused. coverage begins august 10 in a philadelphia with the reform party and an live coverage of the republican national convention beginning monday, august 27 from tampa, florida, and the democratic convention live from charlotte, n.c., starting september 3. >> the coalition of african- american pastors held a press conference opposing president
obama decision on same-sex marriage and they say have launched a nationwide campaign to convince african americans to withdraw support from the president. this is 35 minutes. >> thank you for coming out to this news conference today. my name is william owens, i'm here with my wife, my baby, and my son eric of the pastor's daughter with us today, they came in support -- my son. all of the pastors better with us today, they came in an effort
to save the family, that marriage be between a man and a woman. the time has come for a broad- based assault against the powers that be that want to change our culture to one of men married men and women married women. we wrote the president and mr. eric holder may 2, requesting an audience with him to discuss this very issue. he has not given us the courtesy of any reply. the coalition of african- american pastors consists of 3000, 742 african-american pastors, and he has totally ignored us, not giving us the pleasure of even answering our request, which is discourteous and unprofessional, first of all. also, the president has ignored
the black community because he feels he has us in his pockets. we are not in his pockets. because he is black, we refuse to give him a pass. we will announce a program very soon called the mandate for marriage. i have asked my son william of los angeles, california, to head the group up when we go across the country asking people to support us in our efforts to save the family. with all of the challenges and the problems facing the african- american community, as we are lowest in the the scores on education of any group in america. we are -- we have fewer jobs. prisons are full of the african-