Rules that foster pay-to-play in the business market are limiting innovation and opportunity in the American economy. Business for American Promise aims to bring business leaders together to help further the 28th Amendment and usher in a new era of trust and prosperity in the American pillars of representative democracy and free-market capitalism. Learn more about the key issues and how Business for American Promise plans to address them to create a stronger economy for all Americans. 

The corrosive influence of big money in our political system is eroding our democracy built around the values of free speech, innovation and enterprise and affecting every aspect of our society, including business, education, and health care. 

In a strong U.S. economy, companies compete based on the value they create in the marketplace. In a strong U.S. society, government is accountable to the people it serves. But free enterprise and the open exchange of ideas now are too often replaced by “pay-to-play,” where firms and special interests compete for favors based on political spending. The result is an ever-escalating financial race and increasing cronyism. 

Elected officials now spend much of their time raising money, in races 20 times more costly than in 2000. One Fortune 500 CEO describes this as “legalized extortion,” explaining, “We are seeing every politician coming in here with their hand out, demanding contributions.”

To push for systemic change to restore the health of our civic institutions and the integrity of our government, business leaders and other citizens with a variety of political interests and affiliations are joining Business for American Promise chapters across the country. These chapters unite business leaders in nonpartisan advocacy for a 28th Amendment to end unlimited political spending, foster honest competition, and reestablish integrity in government.

“One of the primary causes of public distrust is the use of money and political influence to gain advantage, rather than the value created for customers, employees and other stakeholders,” says Elizabeth Doty, co-founder of Business for American Promise. “Thankfully, a cross-partisan super-majority of Americans are already calling for such reform with initiatives such as the 28th Amendment, which would authorize limits on political spending.”

Through educational forums, tools, and support, Business for American Promise will help business leaders clarify where they stand and take effective action to advance reasonable reform through the 28th Amendment. Here’s a look at key issues and how business leaders can play a role in working toward a solution that works for all Americans. 

The Issues

Our economy suffers in a pay-to-play system where cronyism undermines honest competition and the real drivers of growth. Large companies confront reputational risks if their government affairs conflict with their stated values. Innovators and investors face increased volatility and regulatory complexity, and small business cannot get a seat at the table. Even worse, pay-to-play politics corrupts representative democracy itself, threatening the integrity of our government, enabling influence by foreign actors, and fueling public cynicism and distrust.

Pay-to-play is blocking reasonable solutions to many issues, including the ballooning federal budget deficit, escalating prescription drug costs, gridlocked energy policy, and growing economic inequality and societal distrust. 

The Background

A series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent decades has allowed corporations, unions, special interest groups and individuals to spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns through authorized PACs and Super PACs. Political spending and contributions have skyrocketed, with more than 76% contributed by just 0.1% of the population, as money flows through nonprofits that aren’t required to disclose their donors. As noted by former Senator Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, “Money’s dominance over politics … is a growing crisis that prevents us from tackling anything else.”

The Solution

By joining Business for American Promise, business leaders who want to change the system can unite behind the movement for the 28th Amendment that will foster honest competition in the marketplace for goods and services and in the marketplace of ideas—and clarify that pay-to-play does not make economic sense. 

With surveys showing that only one in five people believe that the system is working for them, business leaders have a compelling interest in helping to restore public trust in our society. To regain the trust of customers and workers, business leaders must go beyond “business as usual” and commit to representative democracy and a shared concern for the future of America. 

How can you act and add your voice to the millions of Americans convinced that action is needed?

  • Join: Become a BAP member and support our 10-year plan.
  • Share: Learn more and help articulate the business case.
  • Launch: Form a local BAP chapter or find a chapter near you.