What Are Super PACs?
- The term "PAC" is an acronym for Political Action Committee. This is an organization that pools money from its members and donates it to a campaign, or against a candidate. Up until 2010 PACs were highly regulated, and were limited in donating money by several laws and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulations. But after the controversial 5 - 4 decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. The Federal Trade Commission, many of those laws were found unconstitutional and were repealed. This decision allowed corporations and unions in PACs to donate as much as they wanted anonymously without much restriction. These corporate PACs with the ability to donate without limitation is what we know today as The Super PACs.
What Do People Think About Super PACs?
So what are people saying about Super PACs? In a poll by The Washington Post 69% of Americans believe that Super PACs should be illegal, and only 25% believe that they should continue to be legal.
What's The Problem With Super PACs?
So what? Corporations are allowed to donate to any candidate, how does this affect me?
In order to see how corporations truly influence a candidate we first have to think like a candidate. Imagine you are running for president, and through your own money and donations from people you raise 20 million dollars. So you're campaigning and in one of your speeches you mention that you plan to raise corporate taxes. The next day you notice that your polls went down, and after a little bit of research you discover that a Super PAC has just spent 60 million dollars on negative ads against you. The next day you are giving another campaign speech and you say that you've changed your mind and you want to lower corporate taxes. That very day you see a huge increase in your polls and you discover that another Super PAC just spent 90 million dollars in negative ads against your opponent. Here lies the problem. Candidates know that if they choose to pursue a good policy that helps a majority of the American people but would hurt a small portion of wealthy individuals Super PACs will not only stop providing money for that candidate but will spend money against him/her. This creates a conflict of interest and makes it very difficult for politicians to implement good helpful policies if they know that it will only hurt their chances of being elected (or re-elected).
What's Good About Super PACs?
After learning about the problems that the Super PAC role plays in society someone may ask, "Do Super PACs do anything good?" The answer to that question is somewhat complicated, and it really depends on whose perspective you look at. But one indefinite advantage of the Super PAC is that ironically even though it hurts the probability of candidates passing policies that would help the majority of Americans, it helps those who don't have the funds to run a campaign on their own. For instance if you are planning on running for president you are going to need a large amount of money in order to run a campaign. If you don't have money, and you can't sustain your campaign on just individual donations, Super PACs may just be your only option left.
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Public - 4/27/16, 5:31 PM