In a move that exactly no one asked for, struggling presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come up with a new plan she thinks will clean up politics.
Gillibrand told NBC News that her first major campaign plan would be called the “Clean Elections Plan” and would give every voter $600 – she called it “Democracy Dollars” – to donate to the federal candidates of their choice. She told the media outlet her plan would help get big money out of politics.
“If you want to accomplish anything that the American people want us to accomplish — whether it’s healthcare as a right, better public schools, better economy — you have to take on the greed and corruption that determine everything in Washington,” Gillibrand told NBC.
Gillibrand’s reason for her plan appears to be a take on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ discussion of the influence of money in politics. Sanders’ campaign is raising the majority of its funds from individual donors giving less than $200.
Gillibrand broke down how her “Democracy Dollars” would work. According to NBC:
Under Gillibrand’s plan, every eligible voter could register for vouchers to donate up to $100 in a primary election and $100 in a general election each cycle, either all at once or in $10 increments to one or more candidates over time. Each participant would get a separate $200 pool for House, Senate and presidential contests for a total maximum donation of $600 for those federal offices.
The plan would also restrict voters from spending this money out of their state. They could, however, spend it on House candidates outside of their district but within their home state.
Further, the only way a candidate could receive the “Democracy Dollars” would be to voluntarily give up donations from individuals larger than $200. The current maximum, NBC reported, is $2,800 per individual per primary cycle and $2,800 per individual per general election.
It seems rather hard to believe a candidate would volunteer to give up bigger donations, but Gillibrand insisted to NBC that they would “because the potential of how much you could raise in this system is exponentially higher.”
She claimed it would result in candidates reaching out to more local voters to earn their vote.
“They would campaign in all communities,” she told NBC. “They would be going to low-income communities, they would be going to rural communities, they would be asking people to support them not only with a vote, but with (financial) support for their campaign.”
As NBC noted, just 0.5% of Americans donate more than $200 to campaigns. Gillibrand said her plan would “change who has a seat at the table and who gets elected in this country within one election cycle.”
Her plan was quickly mocked on Twitter.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) tweeted: “Making someone pay taxes, then giving them a $600 check back to pay for your failing campaign isn’t ‘democracy.’”
Hale Razor responded to NBC’s article by providing an alternate headline: “Candidate Proposes Plan to Redirect Taxpayer Cash to Candidates.”
There are many issues campaigns want to focus on, using taxpayer dollars to voters to give back to politicians is not one of them. People would rather just have the $600 to spend on what they want, but then Gillibrand would just be copying fellow candidate Andrew Yang’s $1000-a-month plan.