Full Disclosure and Campaign Finance
Jude Wanniski
August 6, 1998


Memo To:Rep. Anne Northrup [R-KY]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Campaign Finance

You lost on the floor, but you have the right intellectual position in arguing against the campaign finance legislation packaged by your GOP colleagues. Your arguments on the Jim Lehrer "NewsHour" last night were not only clear, but intellectually elegant. As much as I like Rep. Zach Wamp, he is as elegant as a blocking tackle. My guess is that many members of your party voted for the Shayes/Meehan bill on the assumption that it will not pass the Senate.

Iíve argued for many years that as long as government tax and regulatory policies are as dense and complex as they are, no level of severity of campaign finance law can possibly end attempts by individuals to buy what they want with hard cash, over the table or under the table. It is not politics, but physics, the law of gravity, and the cash of water running downhill to find equilibrium. The more barriers on the hill, and the steeper Zach Wamp says we should make it, the more the water-cash will have to find openings we would consider unethical. You make the system worse by trying to improve it. We can only throw our energies behind tax and regulatory reform, to get the federal government out of our lives as much as possible, so our citizens or citizens of the world do not have to corrupt themselves trying to make a living.

If I were you, I would introduce legislation to remove all restrictions on campaign finance, except to require full disclosure. If Steve Forbes can spend $37 million to promote his own ideas, why canít Jude Wanniski give Steve Forbes $37 million to represent my ideas? If the ideas are good, the voters will elect Steve on his behalf or my behalf. If they are bad, the voters will reject Steve and he, or I, will be out $37 million. It is as simple as that. Once you accept the idea that the voters can tell good ideas from bad ideas, and good candidates from bad, you quickly see there is no need to construct elaborate laws, regulations and commissions to prevent people from seeking their self interest.