The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act: A Critical Essay
On March, 27, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the ôBipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).ö The BCRA contains a number of important changes to federal campaign finance law. While many in the United States support this law, others object to some of its provisions. This essay will critically examine the BCRA to assess how, and to what degree, its provisions protect and promote the public interest.
The BCRA took some seven years to become law (Mann, 2003). It was developed by members of both the Democratic and Republican political parties in order to help prevent the improper use of money in electoral campaigns. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill was proposed by Representatives Shays and Meehan; in the Senate, it was proposed by Senators McCain and Feingold (Gross, 2002). According to Thomas E. Mann (2003), passing the BCRA was a major legislative accomplishment that only occurred because members of the two major political parties agreed in principal to reform campaign finance law in the interest of serving the public.
Specifically, the BCRAÆs key provisions are:
A ban on national party committees and federal candidates and officeholders from raising or spending nonfederal fundsknown as ôsoft money;ö
Limit and require disclosure of electioneering communications or so-called ôissue ads;ö
An increase on certain contribution limits and indexing those contributions to inflation;
Strengthening of the application of a ban on political contributions by foreign nationals;
An increase of individual contribution limits and coordinated party expenditure limits for candidates facing an opponent who makes large expenditures from personal funds;
Requiring disclaimers on all public communications by political committees;
Codify the Federal Election CommissionÆs rules on the use of campaign funds and allow campaigns to p...