Tuesday, October 18, 2005

whither public financing?

I was talking yesterday to a GOPer who is a lawyer (amoung other things) at a firm in DC that prepresents McCain and Romney. He told me that his advice to those 2008 campaigns was not to take public financing in the primaries.

This tells us two things, first that McCain and Romney really are planning on running (not exactly a newsflash) but also that the public finacing system is falling apart. It is a real shame that serious candidates like George Bush, Howard Dean, and John Kerry opted out while joke candidates like LaRouche and Sharpton took our tax dollars. Well those of us who checked the box, and I always have.

Here is a simiple solution to patch it up: anyone who has been convicted or indicted of a felony cannot recieve public financing money. The point of the that money was to a) limit spending b) get candidates to focus on issues, not fundraising and c) give an equal chance for unknowns to win it on issues alone, and not have it be a money race.

Thanks to Dean's use of the internet vis vis his competitors, he was able to emerge out of obscurity into the front runner in 2003 even without public money. But that won't repeat itself, especially when there are other internet savvy competitors like Clark (Edwards is trying out podcasts and blogging too). I think keeping the money out of the jokester's hands will go a long way to helping maintain the system. Because right now, "only losers take public financing."

By the way, it is Republicans in congress that are talking about getting rid of the presidential fund box altogether, but I think that will make things only worse, not better. As a Democrat, I don't want to have to pick a John Kerry just because he can self-finance via his wife. As a Republican, I wouldn't want to pick a Forbes or analogous person just because they are rich or friends of the rich. This way I could pick someone who better fits my values and where I stand on issues, without worrying if they will have enough cash to compete.

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