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Maryland PIRG applauded Rep. John Sarbanes (MD) today for introducing new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process.
Rep. Sarbanes’ Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), legislation would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small dollar donors and is cosponsored by MD representatives Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Hoyer, and Van Hollen.
“It’s time we return to government of, by, and for the people, not special interests,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “Rep. Sarbanes’ Government By the People Act would reduce Congress’ dependence on big money campaign donors and help ordinary citizens get their voice heard.”
A recent report by Maryland PIRG and Demos found that the current post-Citizens United election system allows large donors to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. In fact, in 2012 the top 32 donors to Super PACs spent as much money as every single small donation to Obama and Romney combined, equaling the gifts of over 3.7 million Americans.
The Government By the People Act would change the way our elections are financed through a combination of matching funds for small donations, and a “My Voice” tax credit. Instead of relying on Wall Street executives or lobbyists, participating candidates would rely on the ones the founding fathers intended them to represent: we the people. Here’s how it would work:
- People would be encouraged to give small contributions through two parts of the proposal: first, contributions of under $150 would be amplified on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created “Freedom from Influence Fund.” No large contributions would be matched at all.
- Second, the first $25 dollars people contribute would qualify for a “My Voice” refundable tax credit.
There are 118 co-sponsors of the Government By the People Act, which was introduced today.
“The American people deserve a political system that makes sure all of our voices are heard, not just special interests that can afford to spend the most,” said Scarr. “This legislation will help to make that a reality.”
Learn more about the Government By the People Act.
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