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POLITICAL MONEY FLOWS TO DEMOCRATS



Published: Thu, August 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Kansas City Star: The recent flood of campaign donations to Senate Democrats illustrates, once again, the unsavory connection between money and government favors.

The big donations promptly followed the shift in Senate power after Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont left the Republican Party in May. His decision gave the Democrats a Senate majority and the clout to channel government funding, special tax breaks, regulatory relief and other favors to certain interests.

The political action committee of Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat who became Senate majority leader, raised more than half of its donations this year in June, for example. When Republican lawmakers have been in the ascendancy, of course, they enjoyed similar financial windfalls.

For sale? Members of Congress in both parties generally insist that campaign donations do not buy government favors.

Yet it seems hard to imagine that certain organizations began pouring money into Democratic coffers in June because they suddenly decided that Senate Democrats were more imaginative and intelligent public servants than had previously been suspected.

The simpler and more credible explanation is that the Senate Democrats suddenly had more government favors to dispense. The people and organizations that wanted some of those favors knew they needed quickly to start paying up.

SHOULD VOTERS GET A HOLIDAY?

Chicago Tribune: Ah yes, another proposal that Americans declare Election Day a national holiday in alternating Novembers. This time the suggestion comes from a national commission headed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. The notion is that if we're given a free day, more of us will show up to vote.

Maybe so. But it's also possible that many of us would parlay those free days into four-day weekends in places far from butterfly ballots. Then there's the more philosophical question about whether it should be harder to vote, not easier. Do we really want our officials elected by people so uninterested that they have to be bribed?

Better solution: But if bribes are the order of the day, a better solution comes from an editorial in the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Seems to us that if the idea is to get more Americans to the polls -- only 51 percent voted last November, lower even than Canada's dismal 62.5 percent -- the government should announce that there will be a holiday in late November if, and only if, more than 60 percent turn out to vote on the first Tuesday."

And to up the ante, limit the late-November day off to workers who can produce those little ballot stub receipts to prove they actually voted. (No, there would not be multiple days off for Chicagoans who patriotically vote early and often).




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