Public financing of elections would level the playing field

Surprise! News flash! The rich don’t want our democracy to be on a level playing field. They like the status quo, where their political donations determine who makes the laws that give them tax breaks and special treatment.

A recent Another Voice, written by a representative of Unshackle Upstate, attacked the Moreland Commission’s call for public financing of elections. This organization represents the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

Talk about galling self-interest. Unshackle fronts for corporations that get an estimated $7 billion in tax breaks every year. These tax breaks are protected by politicians, whose campaign coffers require constant greasing from wealthy donors. The taxes they avoid mean less money for our schools, health care, roads and state parks.

According to the State Board of Elections website, Unshackle’s PAC donated $85,911 to political campaigns in New York over the last two years. Of course it doesn’t want public financing. It is already buying access and influence. Its agenda and ideology is dominating the discussions in Albany.

Under the current public financing proposal, small donations, up to $175, would be matched 6 to 1 by public money. Politicians could fund their campaigns solely by small donations from their constituents. They could spend their time listening to their constituents instead of dialing for dollars and begging organizations like Unshackle Upstate for money.

This prospect scares the wealthy. It would kill the “pay-to-play” culture in Albany, and pump life into our democracy by allowing folks who aren’t wealthy or well connected to run for office.

Common Cause and Citizen Action of New York estimate that public matching funds would cost New Yorkers an average of one penny a day. Google “A Penny A Day Keeps Corruption Away” for more information.

Ann Converso, R.N.

Political Coordinator, CWA

Healthcare Coordinating Council