Last week, a spokesman for supercommittee member Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that Baucus canceled a planned October fundraiser with the National Association of Realtors. This week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told the Cincinnati Enquirer: “Personally, I’ve canceled a bunch of events.”
Back in Pennsylvania last week, Sen. Pat Toomey told a group of constituents that, “I would say we have an absurd tax code that has so many ridiculous features that are there because special interests have carved them out.” On Wednesday, it was reported that Sen. Jon Kyl said that he was worried “outside forces” could force committee members “into situations where you have to compromise our principles.”
By ending their campaign fundraising while negotiating a deficit reduction plan, these supercommittee members could show the American people that they are focused solely on creating a balanced plan—instead of one influenced by campaign donors or other wealthy special interests.
Some have said that giving up fundraising would be a hardship, but that’s just not true. A report by Public Campaign found that the 12 members of the supercommittee had $20.4 million in their campaign accounts at the end of June. All of the House members won their 2010 election by considerable margins, and not one Senator on the committee is up for re-election in 2012.
Giving up fundraising isn’t a hardship. Losing your job or home to foreclosure is a hardship. Having to choose between one medicine versus another because elected officials cut Medicare to save corporate tax loopholes – that’s a hardship.
Whether its canceling fundraisers or talking about special interest influence, these members clearly know there’s a problem. When they meet today, they should make it official and make their first act together a joint pledge to end all fundraising while the committee does its work.
Donnelly is National Campaigns Director of the Public Campaign Action Fund.