Since taking the majority in the House, Democrats have said they will pass election-related legislation, such as H.R. 1, the For the People Act. While the bill’s title suggests that this legislation will improve the electoral process, H.R. 1 is riddled with costly initiatives that alter some of the fundamental principles of our elections system, all at significant expense to taxpayers.
H.R. 1 Would Bust the Federal Budget. One of the main subsidizing components of H.R. 1 is the establishment of a new publicly financed, campaign contribution matching system. Through this new mechanism, candidates running for either President or the U.S. House of Representatives would be “entitled” to a 600 percent match of the amount raised through donations of $200 or less. For example, if an individual donated $100 to a candidate of their choosing, that same candidate would receive $600 of taxpayer dollars in addition to the initial donation of $100. H.R. 1 would also expand the use of authorized campaign expenditures. While current law allows campaign contributions to cover a candidate’s health insurance and salary, H.R. 1 would allow taxpayer dollars to also pay for child care, elder care, and professional development services, along with premiums, copayments, and deductibles to “enable the participation of the candidate or staff.” Essentially, taxpayers would be responsible for funding an entire campaign’s staff benefits, which will be a very costly charge.
Further, H.R. 1 would allow the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to issue various federal grants to state and local governments to upgrade election infrastructure and ensure proper audits. While official estimates have not been produced, these proposals could easily cost the Federal Government an astronomical amount per election cycle. This price tag would be added to the already $22 trillion debt this nation faces.
H.R. 1 is Unworkable. The proposals in H.R. 1 are not only an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars, but they are also a disservice to the democratic system. Guaranteeing federal matching contributions for public campaigns inherently suppresses the average voter, who is financially unable or chooses not to donate to campaigns. This bill favors candidates who receive donations and thus favors the opinions of Americans who donate. Further, by using taxpayer dollars to match campaign donations, tax-paying Americans would also have their right to free association restricted. Individual taxpayers would be effectively forced to support candidates with whom they may disagree.
Republican Solutions for State-Run Elections. Limiting freedom of association by forcing the American people to subsidize campaigns they don’t support, while also requiring local communities to lean more on the Federal Government, is not the way to improve our nation’s democracy. Republicans support robust participation in the electoral system and respect the important role delegated to state and local governments.