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Dick Gephardt on Government Reform

Democratic Representative (MO-3); Former Democratic Candidate for President


Fact Check: Would ban lobbyist donations, but took $4.4 M

FACTCHECK on Lobbyists: Gephardt agreed with Edwards to support a ban on political donations from lobbyists, but made no mention of his own heavy reliance on special-interest money.

EDWARDS: So you would agree with my proposal to ban contributions from lobbyists?

GEPHARDT: Yes, I'm with you.

FACTCHECK: But Gephardt's various campaigns have received $8 million from political action committee's since 1989-amounting to one dollar of every five he has raised. Counting both PAC money and donations from individuals, Gephardt got $4.4 million from lawyers and lobbyists during that period, making that industry his biggest supporter by far. In second place is the beer, wine and liquor industry at $1.3 million. To be sure, it isn't necessarily inconsistent to take lobbyists' money while advocating a ban. In fact, Edwards himself is heavily funded by fellow trial lawyers even though he turns away money from registered lobbyists. But we thought you would like to know.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Election reform: restore faith in “one person one vote”

All across America, too many people have lost faith in the fundamental principle of democracy, the principle of one person, one vote. We must act to restore their confidence. We should not leave this session of Congress without reforming our election process. Our democracy depends on it.

Also, too many Americans have lost faith in the possibility of principled compromise. With Congress so closely divided, some would say that finding common ground is simply impossible. We refuse to believe that.

Source: Democratic reply to Bush’s Message to Congress Feb 27, 2001

Citizen participation solves crisis of faith in democracy

    Obviously, actions by public officials alone will not solve this crisis. Citizens must take action as well if our crisis of faith in democracy is to be resolved.
  1. We must all take the simplest, most basic step toward full citizenship by voting in every election for which we’re eligible.
  2. Citizens should get involved working for the campaigns of candidates they like. Especially on a local level, you’d be amazed at the power even a handful of willing volunteers can wield.
  3. Citizens should volunteer to run for office or take on a cause to help improve their community. Virtually every problem you’ve ever complained about can be matched to a solution any concerned citizen can pursue.
  4. Citizens should let their representatives at all levels of government know their views on issues.
  5. Join local organizations of every kind-community clubs, professional associations, interfaith groups, fraternal organizations, what have you-and work to make them vital, involved members of the community.
Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.218-21 Jul 2, 1999

Disturbed by cynical attitude that government is the problem

The most disturbing trend today is widespread cynicism about government. There are scoundrels among politicians, just as there are in every profession. But the complaints I hear are not always well-founded.

The Republican Party has run its campaigns for the last two decades on the premise that government doesn’t solve people’s problems but is itself the problem. Isn’t it the height of cynicism for Republicans to deliberately foster an attitude of contempt for government as a means of grabbing power?

Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.198-99 Jul 2, 1999

Limit campaign spending, by Const. amendment if needed

If campaigning were less costly, citizens of modest means might run for office. We’re now approaching a situation where only millionaires can afford to mount a first campaign-a disaster for democracy. Reducing the need for campaign money would also reduce the influence of well-heeled special interests. Public cynicism over the legislative decision-making process would be diminished. Public disdain for politicians might be reduced by a lessening of the need for endless fund-raising; the spectacle of eternally asking for money isn’t calculated to increase anyone’s respect for government as a calling.

Real campaign reform must be the highest priority of our leaders. If it takes an amendment to the Constitution to make it possible to enact campaign spending limits-on the grounds that the candidates’ “free speech” would otherwise be infringed-so be it. I rarely favor tinkering with the framework our Founders devised, but I’d approve a thoughtfully crafted exception in this case.

Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.214-15 Jul 2, 1999

Voting reform: easier registration, weekend voting

We can change our election laws to make voting more convenient. It should be easier to vote and easier to register. People today have vastly busier and more complicated lives than in past generations, and with extended working hours and long commutes, many voters choose not to vote because of time pressures. There’s no good reason why our laws should make voting more difficult instead of easier.

In many countries, voting takes place on a Saturday, Sunday, or national holiday, so voter participation is easier. Our Constitution calls for presidential elections to be held on the first Tuesday of November. I’d support a constitutional amendment to change elections to weekend days or holidays. If that can’t be passed, we should consider making every national election day a holiday. It should be simple to vote no matter where you live or how recently you may have moved.

Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.216-17 Jul 2, 1999

Limit campaigns to 8 weeks, with no TV

The campaign reform we need must be radical. The big cost of campaigns is that they go on too long and contain too many TV ads. My solution is simple. Make the campaign six or eight weeks long. Let’s get rid of TV ads and have more events like this where there is a real debate about the issues.
Source: United We Stand America Conference, p.264 Aug 12, 1995

Voted YES on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions.

Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Overhaul: Vote to pass a bill that would ban soft money contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT, and Meehan D-MA; Bill HR 2356 ; vote number 2002-34 on Feb 14, 2002

Voted NO on banning soft money donations to national political parties.

Support a ban on soft money donations to national political parties but allow up to $10,000 in soft-money donations to state and local parties for voter registration and get-out-the vote activity.
Bill HR 2356 ; vote number 2001-228 on Jul 12, 2001

Voted YES on banning soft money and issue ads.

Campaign Finance Reform Act to ban "soft money" and impose restrictions on issue advocacy campaigning.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT; Bill HR 417 ; vote number 1999-422 on Sep 14, 1999

Other candidates on Government Reform: Dick Gephardt on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Foreign Policy
Free Trade
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Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts