Making a political donation is one of the quintessential examples of
disposable income. The public is loathe to what has happened to our
political system and one of the main culprits aside from political party
affiliation is money and its influence. The amount of contributions to
federal and state candidates is staggering, estimated at north of
sixteen billion dollars in 2020, which of course had a presidential
election mixed in. This does not include all the local elections on the
county, town and village level.
If we are not going to enact real campaign finance or lobbying reform,
which we will not, we might as well obtain some benefit, especially
with all the dark money donated. I would propose a ten percent tax on
donations, which can raise roughly one-billion dollars in revenue
annually. Not a million, not one-hundred million, but one billion.
How we determine where that new revenue is spent has many
avenues, but I have always been a proponent of revenue segregation,
which is dedicating revenue streams to specific budget items as
opposed to the general fund; which places it at the mercy of our
elected officials. With this particular tax it is logical to apply the funds
to offset the cost of elections.
In my proposal, the campaigns would be required to remit ten percent
of their donations; allowing a donor to remit the ten percent if they
choose. If an individual can donate $50,000.00 to a candidate, and
there are more than you would probably believe, they can easily afford
to contribute the additional tax. If coupled with expanded terms, the
cost of elections can be significantly reduced.
Not surprisingly, every elected official I spoke with about this proposal
throws cold water on the idea; the public the opposite.