House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) are calling for a change in the Constitution.
The duo is pushing legislation called the “Government by the People Act.” This deceivingly named bill would reverse a Supreme Court decision and amend the Constitution in order to limit campaign contributions. It would also put in place a new system in which tax payers subsidize elections.
Pelosi and Sarbanes wish to overturn Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions are allowed to spend money on elections — so long as they do not directly donate funds to a specific campaign. For example, a business may finance and produce a political documentary that promotes a certain candidate or ideology.
In a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday, the two Democrats wrote, “We must disclose the sources of the money in our campaigns, amend the Constitution to reverse the grievous error of the Citizens United decision, reform our broken campaign finance system and empower citizens everywhere to exercise their right to vote.”
They continued, “We know that if the role of money in our elections were reduced and the level of civility in our politics increased, the result would be the election of more women, more minorities, more young people and more people dedicated to serving the public interest, not special interests.”
The Government by the People Act would give more federal money to candidates during the “homestretch” of their campaigns to ensure that they are not “completely drowned out” by super PACS and competing, well-funded campaigns. It would also establish federal matching funds for political candidates who “agree to a limit on large donations,” and it would give a “refundable $25 My Voice Tax Credit” to citizens who donate to campaigns.
Pelosi and Sarbanes claim that their legislation is what “the American people deserve” and that it would “restore confidence in our democracy.”