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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


President Obama now embraces campaign system he shunned

Obama embraces campaign system he shunned


President Obama became the first candidate ever to opt completely out of public financing, and he largely is credited with putting the final nail in the taxpayer-funded presidential campaign option.

Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times10:34 a.m., Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Though he opted out of the public campaign financing system in 2008 to run the most expensive presidential race in history, President Obama on Tuesday said he opposes House Republicans’ effort to do away with the system altogether.

Mr. Obama became the first candidate ever to opt completely out of the public-financing system, and he largely is credited with putting the final nail in the taxpayer-funded presidential campaign option. But in a statement of policy, Mr. Obama said he wants to see the system fixed, rather than follow Republicans who want to drop the system entirely.

“Its effect would be to expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation’s elections; to force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues; and to place a premium on access to large donor or special interest support, narrowing the field of otherwise worthy candidates,” the White House said in a statement of policy.

Mr. Obama called for repairing the system, though he didn’t give any specifics on how he would do that.

The public campaign finance system, established after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, offers to match money candidates raise during their party primaries, and then offers a lump sum of taxpayer money to those candidates who choose to play by its rules and limits during the general election. It also offers some money for Republicans’ and Democrats’ nominating conventions.

Lawmakers’ goal when they created the system was to try to tone down the influence of money in politics and the time candidates spend fundraising, but their efforts repeatedly have been thwarted by loopholes or candidates who shunned the system altogether.

In 2008, Mr. Obama opted out of the system for both the primaries and the general election, and instead raised nearly $750 million on his way to defeating Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee. Mr. McCain opted out of the primary funding but accepted taxpayer funding for the general election.

Mr. Obama, who has proved adept at fundraising both for himself and for his party’s congressional candidates, said he worries about the corrupting influence of such money.

House Republicans have deemed their bill to eliminate the system a part of their pledge to hold a vote every week cutting spending.

Rep. Tom Cole, the Oklahoma Republican who is sponsoring the bill, called the system “obsolete” and said ending it would save $520 million over 10 years. He said Mr. Obama and others have opted out “with no discernible harm to our democracy.”

The public system is funded by taxpayers who voluntarily check off the box on their income tax forms that sends $3 of their tax bill to the Federal Election Commission.

Accepting federal campaign funds puts a lot of limitations on a candidate. Those that opt out could walk all over the other candidate.
Meh. He once "shunned" raising the debt ceiling ... before he embraced it.
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