Change of Agenda

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Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy writes on Alternet a bout how much is likely to change when a new President is elected this year. Bottom line: not much, unless several reforms -- including full public financing of elections -- are instituted to curb the influence of corporate money on candidates and policy.

No matter who sits in the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., much of the power real estate in DC will be occupied by the same folks:


The reason is that the ultimate enemy of democracy -- corporate power -- extends far beyond the two major parties and the three major branches of government. The permanent government inside the beltway -- the 30,000 lobbyists that work for corporations and the dozens of corporate legal foundations, public relations firms, think tanks, trade associations and front groups -- will doubtless continue pushing their agenda forward regardless of who sits in the White House.

Before a new agenda will be heard, some changes must be made. Public financing is the first on Cray's list:


There is much potential for progressives and conservatives to share some ground here. Regardless of where they stand along the political spectrum, members of Congress are tired of the fundraising rat race and spending their time dialing for dollars instead of debating the issues. Public funding of elections (aka "voter-owned elections") has succeeded at the state level in places like Maine and Arizona, where it has opened the political process to citizens not indentured to a political machine or group of corporate contributors. It could have as salutary or greater an effect on a Congress.

The good news is that two of the three candidates for the presidency have endorsed full public financing at the federal level, it's just Sen. John McCain who has been reluctant to show support. However, he's been supportive of this at the state level, and we've been working to show him how broad public support is for public financing of congressional elections so he could still come around.