"Congress will annually appropriate
between one hundredth's-part and five hundredths'-parts
of one percent
of gross domestic product [...]"
We’ve had enough elections to determine what we tend to spend on them.
Total public and private electoral spending
has remained within a consistent range of gross domestic product by percentage,
in any economy.
It has tracked GDP between 1860 and 2012,
averaging between one and five hundredths of one percent of GDP for Presidential elections, our most costly.
(figures compiled by political scientist Seth Masket, from writer Dave Gilson; see For the Pressfor citations)
Legislation is made several months of the year, every year,
but information about Acts costs far less as bills usually arise from public needs.
No matter what the economy, campaign spending seems to naturally find this percentage range of GDP.
Knowing this lets us control it in the budget safely.
This important discovery can help us to create the future we want.
Progress is not inevitable - it’s the result of choices we make together.
We can't allow any legislature
to determine its own amount of funding for campaigning
without solid boundaries,
and no other form of funding of the public debate
serves the public's information needs without being vulnerable to corruption
This range has accommodated economic ups and downs for 150 years,
and modern campaigning only began in 1828.
Because it tracks GDP, any possible future changes to the formula for calculating GDP are irrelevant.
Even if we someday stop calculating GDP for other purposes
we can continue to use it for this; it’s not a difficult calculation.
And the range is broad enough for flexibility within it
to accommodate variation in other demands on the budget.
Congress will decide each year how much within the range to appropriate per year based on
We can control campaign spending in the budget safely, to meet one of our biggest challenges.
We face these choices right now.
It’s a good idea to set spending at the natural percentage now
before the excesses of post-Citizens United competitive spending,
which have held it closer to the maximum of that range in recent years,
leave all reason behind.