Fixing Our Broken Political System
Our political system is broken — and Congress is a major part of the problem.
To start, there is too much money in politics. Money has become so essential to running for office that it is access to money from PACs and special interests, rather than responsiveness to constituents, that makes elected members more likely to remain in office year after year. The amount of money a sitting member of Congress can receive from PACs and lobbyists is deeply unsettling. This culture causes many members of Congress to put the interests of their big donors first and damages what little trust Americans still have in their Congress — all at the expense of our working families.
As a result, the worst members of Congress spend their time in Washington rigging the system against us. They get away with deals, schemes, and dishonest behavior that would never be accepted in the military, the private sector, or rural communities across the Southern Tier and Western New York. This broken system is damaging our democracy and our country. We need to hold members of Congress accountable for writing rules that enable this unethical behavior to continue. Just because they have written the rules so that can get away with this behavior doesn’t make it right.
It is time we enact strong reforms that constrain the excessive money in politics and help ensure that our political system more closely reflects our values — like integrity and service. I propose four key policy priorities to serve as guiding principles to fix our broken system and get Congress back to working on behalf of the country like our founding fathers intended.
- Corporations are not People: Enact a Constitutional Amendment that undoes the disastrous Citizens United v. F.E.C ruling and give Congress and the States the power to regulate campaign finance.
- Increase Transparency: Require members of Congress to publicly disclose bulk mailings paid for at taxpayer expense, and publicly report the amount of hours they spend fundraising while Congress is in session.
- Crackdown on the Revolving Door: Extend the lobbying ban on former members of Congress after they leave office from one year to five years, and close loopholes that have facilitated underground and unreported lobbying.
- Strengthen Independent Congressional Ethics Oversight: Stop allowing members of Congress to write their own ethics standards — reform is not in their interest. Establish an Independent Congressional Oversight Board that develops and establishes rigorous, enforceable ethics standards for members of Congress.