Lawmakers spend up to half their time asking for cash. How could the system be altered to allow them to research votes, craft bills, and interact with constituents?
Every week there are scores of fundraisers attended by members of Congress. Today alone there are eight that the Sunlight Foundation knows about. Nancy Pelosi told This American Life that she participated in more than 400 fundraising events in 2011, a pace of more than one per day. The vast majority of legislators say they dislike asking for money, but research shows that on average they spend at least a quarter of their work time doing it, and sometimes as much as half or more. Imagine how much worse you'd be at your job if in addition to normal duties you spent hours each day raising money to keep it. Advocates of campaign-finance reform often talk about the undue influence that money has on politics, and that is certainly a significant problem. But the amount of time legislators spend asking for money rather than doing their job is itself problematic.
Is there anything that can be done about it?
Consider this a brainstorming session that suspends, for the sake of idea generation, concerns about constitutional challenges and unintended consequences. It's imperative to think carefully about those factors before legislation is introduced, but for now I've aimed for a different standard: I'd defend any of the following as compatible with the freedom of speech and association. Legislators ought to be free to solicit contributions. But what if we restricted how or when?