Wednesday, March 05, 2008

 

Financing Political Campaigns

Ban foreign donations and mandate full disclosure

John Lott and Brad Smith note the distorting effect public financing has on national elections:
Rather, what taxpayer financing has done is to distort campaigns. For example, when an incumbent president doesn't face a serious challenge during the primaries, he can sit on the public funds obtained during the primaries until the nominee from the other party has been determined, and then use those primary funds to attack his general election opponent.

The non-incumbent party's nominee must usually battle for the nomination and typically reaches the spending limit imposed by the taxpayer-funding system by March. These challengers are then severely limited in their ability to campaign until their nominating conventions in August. Challengers Walter Mondale in 1984 and Bob Dole in 1996 were pummeled for months with little financial means to respond.
Via Ed Morrissery, who believes public financing has no place in a free nation. I agree. I also agree with this:
The answer is that the entire campaign-finance reform structure should be scrapped, along with all of the tax-free statuses for political organizations. Eliminate tax incentives for 527s and the like and demand immediate and full disclosure of monies going to political parties and candidates instead. That will force accountability to where it belongs and make the candidates and parties responsible for their messaging. If nothing else, it’s worth the same try we’ve given the top-down, Byzantine bureaucratic system over the last 30+ years.
We should also retain the ban on foreign contributions.

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