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Money talks.

Normally I tune out James Carville because I feel his comments are so far out there. But his (and Paul Begala's) article ("Not One Dime," March) on how to reform the current campaign process is perfect. Raise the pay for senators so it is more in line with corporate America, but force them to accept nothing. I have heard before that the majority of an elected official's time is spent raising money for their next campaign. What Carville and Begala propose would eliminate that and allow the elected officials to do what they are supposed to be doing (working and listening to the people they represent).

Kerry Francis

Via email

Nope--it won't work. If you pay congressional employees $400,000 instead of $160,000 and cut off all external sources of funding, here's what you'll get: nothing. As an executive who monitors employee expenses and pay plans, putting these folks on a fixed income will force them to starve their constituents. They won't spend anything that is theirs on serving the voter--they'll hoard it.

The real solution is not to increase their pay--the real solution is term limits and the elimination of earmarks. Don't be fooled by the likes of Begala and Carville. They don't have real jobs and they have no clue how to stop this problem. For the most part, they have no clue other than how to entertain us-and that they do with gusto.

Peter J. Brunk

Vice President Sales

Acme Industries, Inc.

Des Plaines, Ill.

This is a pretty good idea. The only part I don't like about it is the matching funds. While there clearly needs to be some matching, if incumbents are to be prohibited from fundraising, I think it should be far less than 80 percent. Incumbency in and of itself is a huge advantage, as we all know. If the incumbent is doing a good job, that should carry a huge amount of weight that is effectively free, and if he or she is doing a bad job, they should not be rewarded if a large amount of money is raised to defeat them. You would basically be rewarding bad performance. Conversely, let's say a big dollar amount, a million dollars, came in from the KKK or some equally despicable organization or person. The disclosure of that fact per your proposed system would be so damaging as to negate any amount of advertising that might be purchased. I think overall the idea is great (although I am a greater fan of term limits and think that would better solve many of the same problems), but the matching should be more on the order of 50 percent than 80.

Tim Powell

Via email

You have done us a great service with the campaign finance law proposal story. It is the most creative, thoughtful, practical, effective idea put forth by anybody and should be introduced as legislation and moved into committee hearings in both houses immediately. They are really on to something big. If something close to this passes and a constitutional version is finally enacted, it will take years before the healing of the money infection will begin. So now is the time and Congress is the place. If our nation does something big like this to fix this mess, the momentum of our decline will weaken and our inherent good nature will reemerge as the defining characteristic of our governance.

C. Raymond Marvin

McLean, Va.

I agree with the need to get money out of the election process. I would add a restriction where the candidates get the money by forcing them to Paise 90 percent of the funds within the district that will elect them. I would also outlaw the non-profit operations many have established to get unreported money. We need to make sure there are no avenues available to buy influence.

Charles Jensen

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

It is an intriguing article and the authors' proposed campaign-funding reform measures are creative. But there's a snag. The proposed measures carry an inherent assumption that only two candidates are contesting an election. Campaign finance reform must address the needs of a wider field of candidates, some of whom do not come from the ranks of the two main political parties.

As a U.S. citizen currently living in Ireland, I have learned that there are other ways to run elections than the winner-take-all method used in the United States. Here in Ireland, typically 10-15 contestants are involved in every local or national election race. An election will have three to nine winners elected through a proportional representation system. In addition to fundamental campaign finance reforms, we also need to rethink our voting methodology.

Catherine Ansbro

Ireland

You got it guys! At age 75 and with a husband on MA, guess how much I can contribute to my favorite politician? Damn little. But what I do contribute should be of equal importance as the contribution of anyone else. Instead, it's drowned out by the moneyed corporate interests who are destroying our environment and cheating the next generation. No wonder people don't vote, and most don't seem to care. It just seems pointless. Perhaps a system such as you've outlined would generate a new pride in our government and renew faith in what once was the greatest country on earth.

Corinne Livesay,

White Bear Lake, Minn.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Livesay, Corinne
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:892
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