This looked to be the year when the effort to bring public financing to campaigns would score its biggest victory to date, a huge boon for those who argue the idea is essential to improving democracy. But that has not happened.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his fellow Democrats in charge of the New York Legislature were unable to strike a deal that would have put taxpayer money to work in the fourth largest state's political system. Facing a deadline last weekend, the best they could come up with was creating a blue-ribbon commission to develop a system for matching small-dollar campaign donations with $100 million a year in state money. Those who thought they could ween the political system off big-moneyed interests were disappointed in the outcome.
rew"We shouldn't have punted campaign finance to a commission. We should do it ourselves," Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, lamented to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Cuomo was pushing a 6-to-1 dollar match, the same ratio that would be adopted for federal campaigns under the House-passed but dead-on-arrival-in-the-Senate political overhaul bill. But state House leaders balked after the the New York branch of the AFL-CIO came out against the plan.
Instead, the catch-all package passed in the legislative session's waning hours creates a nine- member commission, which has until Dec. 1 to propose a public financing system and decide which candidates are eligible. It will take effect unless the legislature rejects the idea within three weeks.
The commission is also assigned to examine the future of so-called fusion voting, a staple of New York politics, in which candidates can run on multiple political party lines. Prominent progressives, including presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have defended fusion voting as a way to give power to niche political organizations. But the two major parties revile the practice as a dilution of their power.
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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."