Democrats’ New “Better Deal for Our Democracy,” Explained

May 21, 2018
In The News

House and Senate Democrats rolled out their campaign platform Monday, taking aim at corruption and pay-to-play politics in Washington under the Trump administration. They’re betting this message will help them win voters in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, when the party hopes to regain control of the House — and maybe even the Senate.... “We make voting in this country more complicated than it needs to be,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, which led the effort to write this agenda, told me.... “Way too many ethics lines are being crossed by the administration,” Sarbanes said. “That’s not an opinion. That’s an observation.” ... To counter it, Democrats plan to hit the campaign trail with policy proposals aimed at tightening lobbying rules.... Among these proposals would be legally requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. That’s a direct reaction to Trump, who has yet to release his financial records, bucking decades of political precedent and breaking his own promises of transparency.... Sarbanes also cited a proposal that would tighten lobbying rules and institute statutes against former lobbyists becoming Cabinet officials in agencies that have purview over industries that previously employed them.... 3) Democrats take a swing at campaign finance reform. This third pillar focuses on transparency in campaign donors. Sarbanes also cited a proposal that would create a 6-1 small-donor match program — a federal public financing system aimed at bolstering donations under $175.... “We will be talking about how the institutions are not as responsive as they need to be,” Sarbanes said. “We will talk about how the Trump administration and the GOP and Republicans in Congress are … aggravating the problem.”