Anthony Corrado examines the most important changes and legal challenges to the law and regulation of campaign finance leading up to the 2012 election. John Green, Michael Koehler, and Ian Schwarber discuss the dynamics and funding of the Republicans' presidential nomination contest as well as the Obama campaign's activity—including the role his Priorities USA "Super PAC" played in negatively defining Romney.
Candice Nelson examines in considerable detail how each side raised and spent its funds and the implications of their different approaches. Paul Herrnson, Kelly Patterson, and Stephanie Perry Curtis explore the financing of congressional elections. Diana Dwyre and Robin Kolodny examine the ways political parties raised and spent money through their national committees, including congressional campaign committees.
Jay Goodliffe and Magleby examine how interest groups raised and spent money—closely examining the effect of the new Super PACs. How did these organizations raise more than $828 million, and how did they allot the $609 million they reported spending, and to what effect? Thomas Mann concludes with a summary of lessons recently learned regarding the financing of federal elections. What changes should be made to the system, and what institutional steps would they require?
David B. Magleby is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University. In addition to editing or coediting the three most recent books in the Financing series, he is coauthor of Government by the People, now in its twenty-fifth edition.
Almost $450 million was spent in both the 1986 and 1988 congressional campaigns, much of it coming from wealthy contributors and political action committees (PACs). Increasing criticism of the current system will undoubtedly force Congress to keep campaign finance reform on it's legislative agenda.
Using public opinion, election and campaign spending data, extensive interviews, and a knowledge of practical politics, Magleby and Nelson examine the central issues in the campaign financing debate: the cost of congressional campaigns, financial participation by the political parties and PACs, existing and proposed limits on contributions and expenditures, public financing, and the role of the Federal Election Commission. They propose a comprehensive package of reforms that will undoubtedly serve as a guide for future legislation.
"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.
Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.
Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.
If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.