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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Campaign finance reform

Barack Obama spent a lot getting elected president, around $600 million.  In comparison, a candidate who accepts federal matching funds is required to spend no more than $84 million during the general election campaign.  Clearly, the system is no longer competitive with unlimited fundraising and spending. 

The president of Democracy 21 has proposed a fix:
  • A 4-to-1 match for contributions up to $200 and nothing for contributions above that.
  • Realistic spending limits: $250 million for the primary and another $250 million for the general, up from $50 million and $84 million, respectively.
  • A lower individual contribution limit than $2300
  • Close loopholes for joint fundraising with the party
I like options (1) and (2) for sure.  What a great way to lock in the importance of smaller donors. 

The lower contribution limit, (3), may dissuade candidates from going with public financing. 

Cutting off funds for parties through joint fundraising (4) is a mixed bag.  Consider: party fundraising is the money the Obama campaign used for get-out-the-vote and voter registration.  It's what is activating people in politics.  It can also be spent on dirty ads against the opponent.  We have to be careful not to toss the baby with the bathwater.  The dramatic increase in participation by Americans is one of the best things to happen from this wild spending.   

What think?

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