HR 1, the For the People Act, is quite possibly the most misnamed bill in U.S. history, although the PATRIOT Act might give it a run for its money. In reality, it should be called the For the Politicians Act.
Why? Simple. HR 1 would be a boon to politicians, while sticking it to we the people.
For starters, HR 1 would use taxpayers’ money to subsidize politicians’ campaigns.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “H.R. 1 would create an additional assessment on many criminal and civil penalties currently imposed by the federal government, or on related settlements, equal to 4.75 percent of the penalty or settlement amount. The proceeds from those additional assessments would be deposited into the Freedom From Influence Fund created under H.R. 1.”
And what would the Freedom From Influence Fund do?
Once again, as CBO describes, “The Freedom From Influence Fund would be the sole source of funding for three programs: the My Voice Voucher Pilot Program (section 5101), which would give eligible voters a voucher that could be used to make certain campaign contributions; the Small Dollar Financing of Congressional Election Campaigns, which would match certain small-dollar contributions to election campaigns for the House of Representatives (section 5111); and the Presidential Election Campaign Matching Funds Program, an existing program that provides matching funds for Presidential election campaigns (section 5200).”
And how much money would be funneled into the Freedom From Influence Fund over the next decade? “CBO estimates that spending on the three programs, which would be limited by amounts available in the Freedom From Influence Fund, would total a little more than $2.5 billion over the 2021-2031 period.”
Yep, that is not a misprint. If HR 1 becomes law, taxpayers would be on the hook for $2.5 billion that would be used to fund congressional and presidential campaigns over the next decade.
That is a travesty. The last thing we need is more money, especially taxpayers’ money, in federal elections.
The 2020 election cycle was the most expensive in U.S. history by far. Spending for the presidential campaigns added up to $6.6 billion. Spending for congressional races reached $7.3 billion. The combined total of $14 billion for the 2020 federal election more than doubled the previous record, set in 2016.
Why in the world should we the people throw in another $2.5 billion so we can be forced to watch thousands more campaign commercials over the next 10 years? Obviously, we should not.
However, that is not what President Biden thinks. According to Biden, “[HR 1] will reform our campaign finance system to amplify the voices of the people — not the powerful.”
Biden added, “I look forward to working with Congress to refine and advance this important bill. And I look forward to signing it into law after it has passed through the legislative process, so that together we can strengthen and restore American democracy for the next election and all those to come.”
If HR 1 makes it through the Senate and is signed into law by President Biden, American democracy would not be strengthened or restored. It would be more money-ridden and corrupt than ever.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is Senior Editor at the Heartland Institute.