To keep money from corrupting our democratic politics, we need constitutional change. No doubt lots can be done by statute alone—meaningful transparency rules, such as the Disclose Act, and small-dollar public funding, such as the Fair Elections Now Act. The Supreme Court, however, has all but guaranteed that these won’t be enough. Transparency by itself won’t build trust; public funding can only be voluntary; and independent expenditures are all but certain to swamp even the best reforms tolerated by the Court. If we’re ever going to get a Congress “dependent,” as James Madison put it in Federalist Paper No. 52, “upon the People alone,” and not “the Funders,” it is clear that Congress will need new constitutional authority.
In a small hearing room in the House Rayburn Office Building, I met with a group of Capitol Hill staffers to discuss the issue of "open access" in broadband cable. "Broadband" is what policy makers call the next generation of Internet access--faster and always on. Cable is now the dominant mode for serving broadband. And the open-access debate is about whether customers get to choose the Internet service provider (ISP) that serves them broadband cable or must take the ISP of their cable company's choice.