Democrats say the limping economy can only be repaired by lawmakers who make policy decisions free from the influence of huge corporate campaign contributions.

In the Democratic radio address aired Saturday morning, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said a campaign finance law is necessary to ensure sound economic policy.

"For the state of the union to be sound, any decision that we make on the economy must be made in the public interest, not for the special interests," she said. "That's why I'm so disappointed that the president did not mention campaign finance reform in his State of the Union address."

Pelosi also said the Enron Corp. scandal has made the need for a campaign finance law urgent. Enron and its employees gave thousands of dollars to lawmakers and to President Bush's election campaign.

"The sudden collapse of Enron, which has been so catastrophic to so many people who have lost their jobs and their hard-earned pensions, has clearly demonstrated the need for reform," she said.
Last week, supporters of a Democratic campaign finance bill in the House gained the 218 signatures needed on a petition to force the bill to the floor over the objections of GOP leaders. The Senate passed such a measure last year.

The legislation would impose a virtual ban on "soft money," typically five- and six-figure donations that unions, corporations and individuals make to political parties. Most of the money is spent on critical television commercials that stop just short of explicitly advocating a candidate's election or defeat.

The measure also would prohibit certain types of political advertising in the last 60 days of a campaign.

Republicans argue the bill as drafted would give Democrats unfair advantage by allowing labor unions to continue heavy spending on political campaigns.

Pelosi said the measure simply levels the playing field.

"We have an opportunity to restore confidence in the political process, to end the alienation of the American people and give the government back to the people," she said. "If we wipe the slate clean, we can create a new architecture for political fund raising."