Since passing the House last Friday, bill HR 1 has been touted by many as a non-partisan solution to fixing American democracy. Unfortunately, there are some very bad provisions in the 571-page legislation, despite some very good parts that could be the basis of a greatly improved scaled down version.
There is no doubt that we need efforts to stop both foreign donations and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations from corrupting politics. Two of the worst offenders are Act Blue, whose unverified credit card system invites foreign money, and the other is Planned Parenthood which as a group has abused c4 limits on political giving more than any other organization.
Conservatives will not win a bidding war with George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer if they simply claim any limits on secret money violated the First Amendment.
Republican voters in Michigan and Republican legislators in Virginia have moved toward non-partisan redistricting commissions which are positive steps. Voters have a right to know which government contractors and special interest groups create a pay-for-play system by using secret donations.
To improve H.R. 1, compromise provisions should include a matching-fund program if it can be tied to a tax credit to once again allow Americans to contribute the first $200 they would have paid the IRS and instead send to candidates who would be a better steward of their tax money.
As nasty as political campaigns have become, requiring candidates to release their tax returns will only discourage more candidates. A much better solution to stop foreign influence would be to require candidates to disclose if family members received at least $100,000 from foreign entities, such as requiring Joe BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE to report when his son Hunter secured a $1.5 billion deal for his company Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC rather than require researchers to stumble on the information on a Chinese language web page.
We should place "sidecar" Super PACs as well LLCs under the same rules as the campaigns themselves after raising the outdated $2,700 limit per contribution to encourage direct contributions so that limits are higher but also all transparent.
It is encouraging to see Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsProsecutors say North Carolina woman deserves prison for bringing 14-year-old to Capitol riot Meadows calls Trump's positive COVID-19 test before Biden debate 'fake news' Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE (R-N.C.), chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, call for the end of Super PACs. He’s absolutely correct when he said H.R. 1 contains “too many conflicting messages” before the vote.
Finally, if same day voter registration were mandated by the federal government, states would lose all ability to monitor the integrity of elections. We’ve seen increased voter suppression and voter fraud, and the latter would multiply if H.R. 1 was passed particularly since the U.S. is one of only two democracies that does not require voter ID.
The Senate should kill H.R. 1 in its current form, however there are plenty of good components in addition to these suggested compromises that could be used as the basis for a truly non-partisan version. However, if the version that passed the House is a "take-it-or-leave-it" from Democrats, then this is just business-as-usual posturing inside the Beltway.
John Pudner is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic.