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Public Statements

Eliminating Taxpayer Financing of Presidential Elections

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Thank you for your leadership, Mr. Brady, and participating in this important discussion, as fundamental as our democracy, on the floor today.

Mr. Chair, I rise today to urge this Congress to focus on our number one priority, the creation of jobs. This is a priority for the American people and for this Congress. We should be focusing on it. That was the message we heard last night from President Obama on this floor, who called on us to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.

But instead of talking about job creation, this legislation we debate today will not create jobs, will not reduce the deficit, and will not strengthen the middle class. And those are the standards we should apply to any legislation that comes to the floor. Instead, it will put American elections more squarely into the hands of special interests.

One year ago, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to unlimited, uninhibited, undisclosed special interest spending in our elections and unlimited special interest influence over our public policy debate. In response to the Citizens United ruling, Democrats worked to restore transparency, fairness, and accountability to our political process. Last Congress, with bipartisan support, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act to require corporations and donors to stand by your ad. Why are you running and hiding? And to keep foreign-owned entities from participating in our elections.

But Senate Republicans blocked DISCLOSE. Even though it came out of the House with bipartisan support, Senate Republicans blocked DISCLOSE from even receiving an up-or-down vote, and now House Republicans are perpetuating a sneak attack on campaign finance reform.

The result was clear in the last election. Special interest groups spent tens of millions of dollars more in the 2010 election than ever before. Again, undisclosed, without identification. There is a reason they don't want it disclosed. First of all, if the public knew who was paying for those ads, they would realize that their own personal interests were not being served, but the special interests. That's our experience in California, where we had a special interest initiative placed on the ballot by outside oil companies. And the strongest statement against the initiative was to see the disclosure at the bottom of the ad as to who was funding it. That spoke more eloquently to the fact that it was not in the people's interest. And the initiative was defeated.

Eliminating the Presidential Election Fund, as this election would do, opens the door for foreign-owned entities and large corporations to enjoy an even greater role in the funding of political campaigns.

In the past, Members from both sides of the aisle have supported legislation to reform, not eliminate, the public financing system. We should come together to ensure that the American people are heard and that they are not drowned out by special interest dollars.

In our democracy--and God bless our Founders for establishing it--voters determine the outcome of our elections. That's the way it should be. Special interests should not be determining the outcome of our elections. One year after the Supreme Court's decision undermined that fundamental American value, let's come together to fight on behalf of the public interest, to preserve the integrity of our political campaigns; and, therefore, to strengthen our democracy. And maybe we could, instead of undermining it here today, strengthen our country by creating jobs, by reducing the deficit, by strengthening the middle class, none of which is being done by this legislation.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this effort to further empower the special interests over the people's interest.

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