There are four important parts to a campaign: the candidate, the issue, the campaign organization and the money to run it. Without the last one the other three will not exist (Janda/Berry/Goldman pg. 164). Politicians need money to keep their careers going. Political money is divided between dollars that are regulated called “hard money” and money that has no restrictions called “soft money”. Soft money is money which, by definition and law, is not supposed to be part of our federal campaign finance system. It is precisely the kind of money which federal law and policy have sought to exclude from national campaigns (Common Cause Soft money pg.1). Senator John McCain from Arizona and Russell D. Feingold, Democrat from Wisconsin have pushed for a ban on “soft money”, money that is given to political campaigns but is not regulated, in presidential campaigns (New York Times September 16,1999). Some people argue that this goes against our constitutional amendments. Soft money does give the wealthier and more powerful the upper hand, but I don’t think there should be a ban on soft money, just a limit or restriction.
In 1971, congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) stating that all campaign contributions had to be reported (Janda/Berry/Goldman pg. 164). The FEC now enforces limits on financial contributions to national campaigns and requires full disclosure of campaign spending (Janda/Berry/Goldman pg. 165). Under these new laws the FEC limited money in presidential primary elections to $10 million but by 1996 the limit was raised to $30.9 million (Janda/Berry/Goldman pg. 165). What caused the big change in the limit on campaign spending from the 70’s to the 90’s, “Soft Money”?
Soft money comes from unions, corporations and wealthy individuals. This money is given indirectly to campaign candidates by promoting televisions ads and other things (New York Times September 15,1999). The money is not handed directly to the politician; it is almost handed to as a gift. For example they will buy commercials, magazine and newspaper space, that is not cheap, to promote the politician or the party they want to win and slander the one they want to lose. The McCain-Feingold bill would ban soft money to parties and extend federal regulations to money raised by independent groups for campaign ads two months before election (New York Times September 15,1999). The argument or discussion that was raised by the corporations and unions that were given this soft money was how could the government tell people what to do with their money.