Monday, July 26, 2010

Healthy Democracy Needs Philanthropy


By Aaron Dorfman

When those who speak for regular folks – you, me and everyday working people – are outspent in Washington, even the most welcome legislation tends to serve the rich and powerful. As the country anticipates President Obama signing financial reform legislation, the scorecard is so starkly out of balance that it's shameful. While a coalition of national and community-based organizations was able to raise $3 million to advocate for average people, the financial industry was spending $1.4 million a day on lobbying efforts.

Americans for Financial Reform, a broad coalition of local, state and national organizations, took up advocating for a financial system that's for the people, one that's accountable, fair and equitable. Despite the enormity of what’s at stake – jobs, economic security and the future of millions of Americans – a new report from the Institute for American’s Future makes it all too clear how much the coalition has been severely outspent by larger, better-funded interest groups.

If financial reform, or any reform, is ever to serve the interests of the people, the balance of power – which is to say, the ability to generate vital lobbying resources – must shift.

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