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February 19, 1988 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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PACS: A Boon To Minorities
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S

.2 the controversial
measure to limit
spending in Senate
races and add new controls
over political action commit-
tees (PACs), is back for an en-
core performance in Con-
gress, despite an ongoing
Republican filibuster led by
Sen. Robert Dole, the minori-
ty leader and presidential
candidate.
Jewish organizations have a
stake in both sides of the com-
plex debate. Pro-Israel PACs
are a key part of the Jewish
political presence in the
Capitol; according to some
Jewish activists on the Hill,
PACs were tailor made to give
well-organized . minorities a
stronger voice in the political
process.
But groups like the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee, the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations and the Na-
tional Council of Jewish
Women see PACs as a major
cause of corruption, and a fac-
tor in the wild escalation of
campaign costs in recent
years. Along with Common
Cause and a broad coalition of
religious and social-justice
groups, these organizations
are pushing hard for S.2's
passage.
Opponents of S.2 argue that
new limits on PACs would on-
ly help incumbents, who have
the built-in advantage of
name recognition. Common
Cause and the members of
the pro-S.2 coalition disagree;
under the current system,
they argue, incumbents
already have a huge advan-
tage in attracting PAC money.
S.2 currently includes ag-
gregate limits on the amount
candidates could accept from
PACs; now, candidates can
take up to $5000 from each of
an unlimited number of
PACs.
In terms of Jewish politics,
this would be a significant
change. Eighty pro-Israel
PACs hand out more than
$7 million in a typical elec-
tion year. For candidates who
can attract contributions
from a large number of these
PACs-like Sen. Alan
Cranston (D-Calif.) — pro-
Israel PAC money can be an
important source of funding.
S.2 would also establish
overall limits on campaign
spending and on the use of
personal wealth to finance
campaigns, and provide in-
centives for candidates who

agree to campaign spending
limits.
Congressional observers ex-
pect the battle to be a difficult
one.

chairman of the Judiciary
Committee and a strong trea-
ty supporter. Biden under-
went successful surgery last
week for a brain aneurysm; it
is not clear how his illness
will affect committee
business.
Supporters are also con-
cerned about possible at-
tachments to the proposed
legislation. There is grumbl-
ing around town that death
penalty proponents would
like to attach a symbolic
amendment expressing their
concern that the treaty does
not provide for the death
penalty for those who commit
genocide.

Christian Right
Rates Senators

Sen. Alan Cranston:
Important funding

Genocide Pact
Mop-Up Coming

In the hurly burly of
politics, Washington style,
some issues inevitably fall
through the cracks. A good
example is the Genocide Trea-
ty, which was ratified in 1986
after years of political wrangl-
ing — and then promptly con-
signed to legislative limbo
because Congress neglected
to pass the necessary enabl-
ing legislation.
The Senate will try to rec-
tify the problem this week,
when the Judiciary Commit-
tee begins considering the
missing piece of legislation.
Urilike the ratification
measure itself, the bill to
begin its implementation re-
quires action by both the
House and Senate.
"Two years ago, when they
passed the treaty, they at-
tached a provision that said it
would not be officially ratified
until implementing legisla-
tion was passed," said Lolly
Bram, legislative specialist
with the American Jewish
Committee. "Everyone was so
excited about the passage of
the treaty that they thought
the issue was finished. It's
been hard, making it a priori-
ty this year."
There is a special reason for
clearing up the last loose end
on the genocide treaty: Sen.
William Proxmire, the Senate
veteran who has worked
tirelessly for the pact, will be
retiring this year.
One question mark for trea-
ty proponents is the health of
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), the

Maryland Senator Paul
Sarbanes and New York's
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
have come out near the bot-
tom of a recently released
rating of legislators.
But Jewish supporters of
both politicians are not exact-
ly disappointed with the
evaluation; the negative
rating comes from the offices
of the Biblical News Service,
a news organization represen-
ting some of the more conser-
vative elements of the Chris-
tian Right.
In fact, Sen. Sarbanes
earned the group's lowest
rating — scoring a perfect 0
on the 100 point scale, even
below the 10 assigned to Sen.
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.),
the traditional arch-nemesis
of the evangelical movement.
Other low scorers were Sen.
Frank Lautenberg (D-N.Y.),
Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-
Ohio) and Sen. Donald Riegle
(D-Mich.).
On the other end of the
scale, the embattled
Republican from Nevada,
Sen. Chic Hecht, earned a 95
rating, tied with Sen. Orrin
Hatch. Hecht, who is Jewish,
has earned the ire of a
number of major Jewish
organizations here in
Washington.
In the battle for the Oval
Office, Biblical Scorecard
gave high marks to video
evangelist Pat Robertson and
Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), with
scores of 95 and 85, respec-
tively. The best any Democrat
could muster was Albert
Gore's 15; Michael Dukakis,
Richard Gephardt, Gary Hart
and Jesse Jackson scored 0 on
the evangelical group list,
which is targeted at what the
publishers call the "Christian
majority."

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