The Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act aka “McCain-Feingold”: Five years later

Ryan Sager at the NY Sun takes a look back at the McCain-Feingold campaign finance ‘reform’ bill and how it didn’t live up to the promises that the creators of the bill made about it:

Five years ago today, President Bush signed into law the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Today, American politics is so clean you could eat off it — except for the mud-slinging, back-scratching, favor-trading, influence-peddling, bald-faced lying, indictments, and convictions.

Nonetheless, the folks who brought us the bill known colloquially as McCain-Feingold will be taking a wildly undeserved victory lap this week. After all the big promises leading up to the passage of McCain-Feingold, one is tempted to resort to the phrase “moving the goal posts.” But, in truth, the more apt simile would be that the reformers’ arguments are like bumper bowling: So long as they roll the ball in the right direction and manage not to hit anyone in the face, they get to feel good about themselves.

Take as a prime example of the reformers’ boasting a statement put out yesterday by the Reform Institute, a non-profit group affiliated with Senator McCain of Arizona. The statement claims that BCRA has “succeeded in its objectives.” How so? It “significantly reduced the corrupting influence of campaign contributions and enhanced the participation of small donors in the process.”

Let’s take those two claims one at a time.

As to the first part, that corruption has been reduced, this is a simple assertion, with not a single piece of evidence to back it up. There’s a reason for that: There is no evidence. By what metric does one measure “corruption”? Mr. McCain and his crew couldn’t define it before they passed McCain-Feingold; they can’t define it now; and, thus, there’s no way to measure it. Anyone paying attention to politics in the last couple years, however, would be surprised to find out corruption has been “significantly reduced.” The names of three former Republican congressmen — Tom DeLay (departed from Congress under indictment), Duke Cunningham (in jail for accepting bribes), and Bob Ney (pleaded guilty to corruption charges) — jump to mind.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Betsy Newmark

More: Mark Tapscott makes the case: Repeal McCain Feingold.