Rep Wingard on campaign finance reform, Tea Party-style

T.A. Barnhart

The House Rules Committee heard testimony on several bills dealing with campaign finance reform. The need to bring down the costs of elections was agreed on by all parties, but only one saw this as an opportunity to attack government in general. GOP Rep Matt Wingard, HD 26, presents his thinking.

Feel free to address the flaws in Rep Wingard's thinking. There are many.

T.A. Barnhart has been writing at Blue Oregon for nearly 6 years, and is currently hosting a Kickstarter project to enable him to produce daily video reports from the Legislature during the 2011 session. He would greatly appreciate your support for this unique and valuable effort. He writes regularly at You’ll find more videos, including interviews and excerpts of local progressive events, at his Vimeo page. And he’s on Facebook a lot!

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    I think I agree with Wingard's general diagnosis: that increasing political campaign spending is driven to a large degree by the financial interest of special interests that stand to gain or lose from the decisions of government. the larger the role of government, the more special interests are going to spend on political campaigns.

    But Wingard's prescription, smaller government, is a fantasy or, more accurately, the victory of one set of special interests over others.

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    Let me get this strait, by reducing money in government we will reduce money in politics. Is that the argument?

    Flaw: Eliminate money in government entirely, still, governmental decision-making creates economic winners and losers.

    Thus, attracting money into politics.

    Thus, not fixing the money in politics problem at all but reducing government in the process. Sounds like that is the true aim. I would like to see the statement in full context but there ya' go T.A. :-)

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    Tim, you got the full context: they were discussing various campaign finance reform measures. Wingard's statement is a stand-alone piece. he used Fidanque as an excuse to make this speech.

    that was the entire context: Matt Wingard, Political Deep Thoughts Thinker

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    The people hurt the most by gross cuts in government are too young, too sick, or too confused to vote. I saw them referred to as the "nonproductive" in a letter in the O today. The Rs have been trying to let them die off in each generation since before the Gilded Age. Not that I'm against cutting scandalous corporate handouts like the Business Energy Tax Credit and the like. But wait, that's welfare for the corporations. That's ok.

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    Matt Wingard is a know-nothing gas bag of the first order. His "logic," if you don't mind the abuse of that term, would have us believe that firing state and local public employees will somehow reduce the amount of corporate cash flowing into the pockets of elected officials.

    In reality, sacking public employees ostensibly in the interest of budget cutting is nothing but a payoff to corporate special interests by (almost entirely Republican) politicians who are clearly seeking to attract more, not less, money into their own pockets and politics as a whole. By firing public employees and weakening their unions, which is obviously what is going on in Wisconsin, Republicans are seeking to keep the bribe money pouring in, not out of politics. It's filthy and sickening and people like Wingard are working in direct defiance of the will of the people.

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    I saw Democratic House Leader Dave Hunt last night, wish I had seen this video earlier so I could ask Dave what the hell Wingard was talking about. I don't see a clear direct correlation between govt spending and campaign spending, can someone 'splain this to me?

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      On the assumption that this is a sincere question, here is an effort to help provide illustrations of Rep. Wingard's point (some on issues important to the right; some on issues important to the left).

      If the defense budget didn't include hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money spent on weapons programs, do you think defense contractors would be as financially active in the political arena?

      If the BETC program didn't provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax benefits, do you think the recipients of those benefits would be as financially active in the state political arena?

      If the Portland Development Commission didn't provide millions in subsidies and expenditures that benefit private development projects, do you think the developers would be as financially active in the political arena?

      If the state payroll was half the size it is today, do you think public employee unions would be as financially active in the state political arena?

      There are certainly public benefit justifications offered for all of the above examples. But Wingard's essential point is right: if there's a trough, the pigs will be hard at work to make sure it stays full of slop. And it's tough to be too critical of the pigs (as long as they are abiding by the law in their activities); they're just exercising their rights of free expression in an effort to further their own economic interests.

      When big dollars are on the table, people will do whatever they need to to get their "share". Reduce the dollars, and you reduce the basis for the activity.


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