A Better Hope for Campaign Finance Reform

38 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2019

See all articles by Edward J. McCaffery

Edward J. McCaffery

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: August 2, 2019


There is too much money in American politics, and too much of it comes from too few citizens. Mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson or Tom Steyer make $100 million political expenditures every election cycle. Attempts to limit such large political contributions have failed at every level: judicially, legislatively, and administratively. Much of the academic literature has joined the real world’s sense of despair. This Article takes a new tack. By changing our tax system from an income to a consistent progressive spending tax, the true cost of political expenditures by mega-donors could increase tenfold. By using a strategy of taxing that has been applied to such “bads” as alcohol and cigarettes for centuries, and by identifying high-end spending or consumption in general as such a social “bad,” this Article offers hope for solving what seems to be a hopeless problem.

Suggested Citation

McCaffery, Edward J., A Better Hope for Campaign Finance Reform (August 2, 2019). USC CLASS Legal Studies Research Papers Series No. 19-21, August 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3431204 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3431204

Edward J. McCaffery (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-2567 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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