Kirsten Gillibrand wants to give you $600. Well, sort of. The Democratic senator and 2020 presidential contender unveiled her first major 2020 policy initiative Wednesday, telling NBC News in an interview that her "Clean Elections Plan" aims to make sure big money no longer plays as big of a role in US politics. Included in the plan is the ability for every eligible voter to register for vouchers, which can then be used to donate money to the political campaigns of their choice, up to a maximum of $600 per election cycle. Here's how the $600 would break down:
- Voters would be able to donate up to $100 during the primary election for House candidates, then up to another $100 during the general election.
- Voters would be able to donate up to $100 during the primary election for Senate candidates, then up to another $100 during the general election.
- Voters would be able to donate up to $100 during the primary election for presidential candidates, then up to another $100 during the general election.
Each $100 could be donated all at once or separated into $10 increments and donated to one or more candidates over time.
Voters would only be able to donate to candidates in their own state, but are not restricted to donating only to House candidates in their own district. As for candidates, in order to receive the so-called "Democracy Dollars," they would need to agree not to accept any contributions to their campaign that amount to more than $200 per donor. The current maximum is $2,800 per primary and the same amount per general election. Candidates who opted in would reach out to more voters, Gillibrand predicted: "They would campaign in all communities. They would be going to low-income communities, they would be going to rural communities, they would be asking people to support them not only with a vote, but with (financial) support for their campaign." Seattle has a similar program using a $25 voucher system for local elections. Gillibrand did not give an estimate of how much her plan would cost, but did say she planned to pay for it by limiting a corporate deduction for executive compensation to raise an estimated $60 billion over 10 years. Early reaction was mixed; a columnist at the Independent calls it "a truly terrible idea," while a California congressman praised it. (Read more Kirsten Gillibrand stories.)