Since the election, almost every group in town has been
meeting to develop a position on campaign finance reform. The
Brookings Institution's Tom Mann has organized a working
group that holds luncheons and has its own web page (www.brookings.edu/gs/campaign/home.htm).
Organizations from Common Cause to Citizen Action are holding
meetings of what they call the "reform community."
Norman Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute,
summed up much of the prevailing mood at a Brookings luncheon
November 13. "I used to think of the problem of campaign
finance as a low-grade fever," he said. "But in this
The Clinton re-election campaign of 1996 exemplified much that is wrong with our campaign finance laws. The campaign turned a small loophole in our campaign laws--which allows parties to raise unrestricted money for "educational" expenditures--into a yawning cavity. Campaign officials also broke existing laws against laundering contributions and raising money from foreign nationals. But did Vice President Al Gore engage in serious illegal actions that would have merited investigation by a special prosecutor?
Jeff Faux and his Economic Policy Institute have consistently shed light on the dark recesses of the American economy--exposing the decline of wages that accompanied the Reagan and Clinton booms and debunking the promise of an export boom with Mexico. I agree with his criticism of Clinton's trade policies. But I don't feel the same enthusiasm about Faux's political prescriptions in "A New Conversation: How to Rebuild the Democratic Party" (TAP, No. 21, Spring 1995). Indeed, Faux's underlying political and historical premise is exactly what has crippled liberal Democratic thought since 1968.