House to vote on repeal of presidential tax financing

The Center for Competitive Politics issued a press release and a letter to congressional leaders about today’s vote on repealing the presidential tax financing system:

“Presidential tax financing is an politico-religious construct of the Washington elite with no demonstrated benefits,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “In an era of austerity, this pet ideological project of self-anointed reformers needs to hit the chopping block.”

FEC Commissioner Don McGahn published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner urging abolishing the antiquated program:

The presidential public financing system is a fossil of the 1970s, and the sort of cumbersome regime that only an inside-the-beltway policy wonk could love. For example, to qualify for primary funding, you must raise more than $5,000 in 20 states (but only the first $250 per individual contributor counts).

Back in the 1970s, this may have signaled a broad base of presidential-level support; but today even some mayoral candidates do that in a day, probably even before lunch. Once deemed “eligible” by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), you must agree to both national and separate state-by-state spending limits. You also must agree to a “voluntary” audit by the FEC (past audits have included fascinating topics such as whether running television ads in Boston, Massachusetts, counts against New Hampshire spending limits).

 

Filed Under: Blog

House votes to end tax financing for presidential candidates

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the failed presidential tax financing program Wednesday afternoon on a bipartisan 239-160 vote.

“Today’s vote is a win for common sense, as supporters of this political pyramid scheme could offer no compelling reason to continue wasting taxpayers’ dollars,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Hopefully, the Senate will follow up with a vote to end these unnecessary subsidies for would-be presidents.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will block consideration of the bill. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a companion bill in the Senate soon after the House vote, S. 194. If that’s unsuccessful, at least one Senator plans to move the measure forward by attaching it to another piece of legislation.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing

House pulls plug on presidential tax financing

Filed Under: In the News

In the News: Wall Street Journal: The Incumbent’s Bane: Citizens United and the 2010 Election

Wall Street Journal: The Incumbent’s Bane: Citizens United and the 2010 Election By Bradley A. Smith Last Jan. 27, President Obama stunned his State of the Union audience with an unprecedented attack on the Supreme Court and its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The president claimed that the Jan. 21, 2010, decision […]

Filed Under: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, In the News, Issues, Published Articles, WSJ

State of the FEC’s Union

Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress—and perhaps even a Supreme Court Justice or two.

Most observers aren’t expecting another high-profile mention of campaign finance issues. So, to get a glimpse of what 2011 has in store for campaign finance developments, it may be useful to examine the State of the Federal Election Commission’s Union.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act

CCP urges vote on separation of presidential campaign and state

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill to repeal the presidential tax financing system. The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) strongly urges a vote to abolish the antiquated system of government welfare for politicians.

“Presidential tax financing is an politico-religious construct of the Washington elite with no demonstrated benefits,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “In an era of austerity, this pet ideological project of self-anointed reformers needs to hit the chopping block.”

A Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday estimated that eliminating the program would save American taxpayers $617 million over the next ten years. Assuming that this $617 million represents money that would otherwise have to be borrowed, eliminating the program would also save in excess of $854 million in interest payments, saving taxpayers more than $1.4 billion. Even that underestimates the true cost of junking the program, as bureaucrat labor and candidate compliance costs are not considered.

Filed Under: External Relations Sub-Pages, Press Releases, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax Financed Campaigns State, Tax-Financing

The Incumbent’s Bane

Filed Under: In the News

The Incumbent’s Bane: Citizens United and the 2010 Election

CCP Chairman Brad Smith published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “The Incumbent’s Bane: Citizens United and the 2010 Election,” (online now, also in tomorrow’s print edition) coinciding with President Obama’s State of the Union address, scheduled for delivery tomorrow night:

Last Jan. 27, President Obama stunned his State of the Union audience with an unprecedented attack on the Supreme Court and its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The president claimed that the Jan. 21, 2010, decision would allow “special interests—including foreign companies—to spend without limit in our elections.” In other speeches, the president argued that Citizens United would create “a stampede of special-interest money in our politics,” “drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” and “strike at our democracy itself.”

The president’s remarks were not only factually inaccurate—the decision did not allow foreign companies to spend in U.S. elections—but none of the doomsday predictions has come true. Thanks in significant part to the decision, the 2010 elections were the most competitive and issue-oriented in a generation.

All told, independent spending in the 2010 elections increased to approximately $294 million from approximately $69 million in 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Even operating on the improbable assumption that this entire increase resulted from Citizens United, that means the decision accounted for approximately 11% of total spending, including national party and candidate spending, in 2010.

The biggest complaint of Citizens United critics seems to be simply that the wrong candidates won. Thus the left-wing group Public Citizen identifies as “damage” from Citizens United the fact that “power has shifted in dozens of congressional seats.” Exactly.

When Mr. Obama launched his salvo at the Supreme Court in last year’s State of the Union address, Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true,” presumably in reaction to the president’s incorrect claims that the case overturned “a century of law” and allowed “foreign” expenditures. The president’s doomsday predictions can also be placed in the category of “not true.”

The lesson of Citizens United is not to fear the First Amendment—unless, perhaps, you’re an incumbent politician.

Read the whole thing at the Wall Street Journal.

Filed Under: Blog

Why the frown at the FEC?

First, to explain the title. “Why the Frown” is what my 11-year-old daughter insisted was the phrase abbreviated as “WTF.” But it seems appropriate to use it in a post about the post-Citizens United FEC rulemaking brouhaha, because there are frowns to go around.

Filed Under: Blog

If a protest is held in the woods…: Anti-Citizens United rallies end with a whimper

On Jan. 21, the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Move to Amend and numerous other groups vowed to hold rallies across the country.

From all appearances the efforts seems to have had all the impact of the proverbial tree that falls in the woods. If an anti-speech group holds a public rally (an interesting contradiction in itself) and no one shows up, was there a rally?

Filed Under: Blog