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Government "By the People" Makes a Comeback in Congress

Rep. Sarbanes is the lead sponsor of the "Grassroots Democracy Act." Courtesy of Rep. Sarbanes.
Rep. Sarbanes is the lead sponsor of the "Grassroots Democracy Act." Courtesy of Rep. Sarbanes.
February 6, 2014

WASHINGTON – Backed by government reform groups and a growing list of other organizations, 128 members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced the Grassroots Democracy Act to encourage citizens to take their government back from free-spending corporations.

Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland, is the lead sponsor.

"People are increasingly angry at this sense that they can't be heard in Washington,” he says, “that they're being left out, their voices are being rolled over by super PACs and big-money interests here."

The bill creates a tax credit for contributions to congressional campaigns, and a matching public fund to amplify the impact of regular citizens in congressional campaigns.

E. Joy Arnold of Midway is state coordinator in Kentucky for Move to Amend, a nationwide coalition aimed at ending corporate rule. While she strongly supports public funding of campaigns, she worries it won't be enough.

"That will still not begin to touch the contributions that the obscenely wealthy in our country put into our political system," she maintains.

Sarbanes says polling shows that not just Democrats, but unaffiliated voters and Republicans, too, are concerned about the influence of big money on politics.

But Arnold fears the Grassroots Democracy Act is like throwing a marshmallow at the problem.

"I don't see how legislation can cure the problem,” she says. “I think it's going to take constitutional

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY