When we the people are united, no challenge is too great. Together, we can restore balance to our democracy, so that we all have a voice.
Returning Government to the American People
A policy framework generated by a bipartisan working group of the ReFormers Caucus
The framework lays out specific proposals for returning our government to the representative path the founders envisioned, and is intended to serve as a starting point for bipartisan conversations in Washington. Implemented together, the proposals in the framework would “drain the swamp” and sever the money connection between powerful private interests and our elected government.
We can do this now
We all pay the price for a political system dominated by the power of money, and we can’t wait any longer to start fixing this broken system. Our solutions focus on the changes we can make right now—without waiting for the Supreme Court to change or for the Constitution to be amended—that will restore our government’s ability to tackle our most pressing challenges and rebuild trust in our democracy.
Freedom to lead
Our elected officials are trapped in a never-ending cycle of fundraising, spending as many as 30 hours a week “dialing for dollars.” For lawmakers, every minute spent fundraising is a minute not spent serving their communities, getting to know their colleagues on both sides of the aisle or learning about the complex issues facing our country. At the same time, declining budgets, lack of expertise and high turnover rates for congressional staff empower lobbyists and further weaken Congress’ ability to do its job.
We can give members of Congress the freedom to lead by:
- Enacting new rules that ensure that when we’re working, Congress is working;
- Improving the capacity of Congress so that members of Congress make decisions based on their internal research and expertise.
Real-time information and accountability
Special interests, corporations and unions are spending millions of dollars influencing voters—and they’re using a complicated web of dark money nonprofits, super PACs and sham companies to make sure voters never know the real source of their campaign messages. We need real-time information so we can properly evaluate the messages, and messengers, trying to influence our votes. Our access to information shouldn’t stop at the voting booth—we should also know when our members of Congress meet with special interest lobbyists. Right now, lobbying disclosure laws are rife with loopholes, which make conflicts of interests too common. We need someone to enforce the rules and hold candidates, Congress, lobbyists and outside spenders accountable if they break the law.
We can give voters the information they need and keep everyone accountable by:
- Ensuring that voters have immediate access to political spending information—whether the money comes from corporations, unions, super PACs* or nonprofits. (*Although super PACs are required to disclose donors, some are funded through opaque groups that do not disclose where their funding originates and some disclose long after Election Day, leaving us in the dark until after we vote);
- Updating the Lobbying Disclosure Act to close loopholes; and
- Fixing the Federal Election Commission so that the agency can actually enforce the law, including ensuring that foreign money isn’t being spent in U.S. elections through dark money groups.
Changing the dynamic
It will always cost money to run a winning campaign. But right now most members of Congress rely on an incredibly small number of people and groups to fund their campaigns, and the result is that those people have too much influence. We can change this dynamic. We’ve already had success by funding victories in Maine and elsewhere. By supercharging small donations to candidates, we can give Congress an incentive to prioritize constituents over special interests. Rather than depending on corporations, unions and wealthy donors, our elected officials would be talking to us about the issues.
We can change the dynamic by:
- Supporting innovations at the state and local level that increase the number and impact of small donors;
- Stopping the flow of dark money in elections;
- Delinking lobbyists and campaign contributions.
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