Thursday, January 27, 2011

Republicans Vote To End Public Financing For Presidential Elections

With Republicans continually pushing off much-needed job-creating legislation, House Republicans passed a bill today eliminating public financing for the presidential election.

David Espo wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
Eager to cut spending, the Republican-controlled House voted to end multimillion-dollar federal subsidies for presidential candidates and national political conventions on Wednesday, the first of what party leaders promised will be weekly, bite-sized bills to attack record deficits.

The 239-160 vote sent the measure – and the fate of the familiar $3 check-off box on income tax returns – to the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats.

"Eliminating this program would save taxpayers $617 million over ten years, and would require candidates and political parties to rely on private contributions rather than tax dollars," said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., "In times when government has no choice but to do more with less, voting to end the Presidential Election Campaign Fund should be a no brainer."

Democratic critics said it was anything but that, arguing the vote represented a step away from sweeping reforms enacted in response to the Watergate scandals of a generation ago.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said that in combination with a year-old Supreme Court ruling that loosened restrictions on donations by corporations and others, the legislation would result in "less transparency and less information for the voters" at a time when the public is seeking "clean, transparent and competitive elections and campaigns."
I once supported the idea of abolishing public financing of elections, my attitude towards the practice changes with the Citizens United ruling, which allowed more money to flow from private sources during election cycles.  I agree with Van Hollen's assessment of the situation and am upset with the Republican bill. 

Just consider last years mid-term elections and the amount of private money used to influence election results - look at the campaign of Florida Governor Rick Scott, who set up a shell 527 to funnel his private fortune into to prevent his oponents from qualifying for matching public funds, and then use that corporation to make unrestricted use of that corporation.  Did I fail to mention that Rick Scott was a crook who bilked the government out of millions by scamming Medicair and Medicaid through his hospitals billing?

Basically, Republicans want to pass this legislation - claiming it is a deficit reducer despite the cost being a fraction of a percent of the annual deficit - because they want to influence elections with no restrictions and no opposition.  They want to write the rules in their favor.  Sure, they point to Obama refusing public financing during his run for the presidency in 2008, but Obama also had to comply with pre-Citizens United campaign finance laws - Democrats were also quick to point out how Ronald Reagan benefited from public financing, and if you talk to any modern Republican, they claim Reagan to be the spiritual head of the party, and without Reagan, there would be no GOP.

I am glad that this legislation will have to try and make it through the Senate, where bills go and die...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.