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In Defense of Citizens United

Why Campaign Finance Reform Threatens American Democracy

Courtesy Reuters

Many Americans are troubled by the country’s ongoing fiscal crisis, which is driven by endless annual budget deficits. These deficits are building up a mountain of gross national debt so large that it will eventually dwarf the country’s GDP. Some place blame for this predicament on a suite of large entitlement programs that are inherently unsustainable. Others blame expensive wars abroad, paid for on the installment plan. And still others blame democracy itself, as a shortsighted public punishes representatives who try to bring tax and spending policies into balance. But they all miss the forest for the trees.

The underlying cause of the U.S. fiscal crisis lies deeper -- in political dysfunction that began when Congress moved to control campaign expenditures through the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971. Much of the law was initially declared unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment, but Congress revised it in 1974,

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