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There was a time when I believed that the best way to curtail the impact of money flowing into our political system was to monitor it. Make sure that campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures were reported quickly and accurately, I reasoned, and journalists and the American public could determine for themselves what they could tolerate.
Transparency is still needed. But the entire political system is now so swamped with cash — and lawmakers so overwhelmed by the need to raise it — that something more is clearly needed. Congress, the institution I know best, is in danger of drowning. It needs help. Americans dislike the idea of using taxpayer dollars to fund politicians’ campaigns, but what Congress needs is pretty straightforward: It needs public financing of congressional campaigns.
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