Inside Report (4)

Supply-side politics?

Amid the hue and cry raised by some people over the high cost of political campaigns comes a dissenting voice: ''I am actually in favor of spending more money on politics - in order to increase competition for the public's attention.'' So says Dr. Herbert Alexander, director of the Citizen's Research Foundation and a political science professor at USC. The high cost of campaigning is inevitable in a democracy, he argues: You've got to reach as many voters as possible, and the most effective way to do that is through media advertising - which isn't cheap. Ads become especially vital to challengers because incumbents already bask in the limelight. One change he recommends: Raise current limits on contributions to candidates running for federal office.

''The greater the election spending by groups with conflicting interests, the more side of an issue you will hear,'' he says.

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