WASHINGTON – Backed by government reform groups and a growing list of other organizations, 128 members of the House of Representatives this week introduced the Grassroots Democracy Act to encourage citizens in Utah and across the nation to take their government back from free-spending corporations.
Verne Cotton, coordinator with Salt Lake City Move to Amend, a nationwide coalition aimed at ending corporate rule, says the legislation could help balance the political playing field with the super-rich who are using their money to influence elections.
“Corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as individuals are,” Cotton asserts. “Money should not determine the political outcome in elections or in the selection of our leaders. It should be the people.”
That said, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled four years ago that political spending is a form of free speech under the First Amendment, and corporations and unions have the right to indirectly spend money in support or against political candidates.
The Grassroots Democracy Act creates a tax credit for contributions to congressional campaigns, and a matching public fund to amplify the impact of regular citizens in congressional campaigns.
Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, the bill’s lead sponsor, says the time has come for working Americans to have a louder voice in the political dialogue.
“People are increasingly angry at this sense that they can’t be heard in Washington,” Sarbanes maintains. “That they’re
being left out, their voices are being rolled over by super PACs and big-money interests here.”
Sarbanes adds polling shows that not just Democrats but unaffiliated voters and Republicans, too, are concerned about the influence of big money on politics.