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I haven't been shy about my general opposition to the current campaign finance regime. The so-called "reformers" that want to clean up politics have so lost sight of the original problem, that they think money is the problem in politics, when in fact it is the unwarranted influence of big money.

If you give $20 to a candidate, not a problem. If big money donor bundles $100,000 in exchange for favorable tax breaks for his or her industry, that's not okay.

Seems simple enough, right? But for the "reformers" at places like Common Cause and Fred Wertheimer's Democracy 21, the obsession has been misplaced. That's why a couple of years ago they spent considerable effort to try and destroy the political blogosphere. The thought of having people discuss campaigns infuriated them to no end. If money was being spent to advocate for candidates, they demanded the government regulate it. This can get into seriously absurd situations, such as this anecdote I wrote about last year:

While testifying at the FEC fighting for a blogger media exemption (which we won), I sat next to Larry Noble, then-head of the Center for Responsive Politics, who was doing his best to destroy internet free speech (along with the likes of Carol Darr).

During his testimony, he was sidetracked to make the most ridiculous argument I'd ever heard -- that state parties that featured images of federal candidates on their websites would have to calculate and account for those pictures. The example he used was the Arizona Republican Party. If their website featured a picture of John McCain, the party would have to calculate the percentage of the screen real estate taken by John McCain and account that as a federal expenditure.

Not only was the demand technically impossible (just think of how screen resolutions and font sizes affect how a screen looks), but it was ridiculous on common-sense grounds. Why shouldn't the Arizona Republican Party (or any other) be able to put up a picture of their entire slate, top to bottom, without the government trying to make it difficult to do so. [Update: Adam B found the transcript of the exchange.]

Practicality and common sense long ago disappeared in that campaign finance reform "reformer" community. Much the same way, they HATE the thought of millions of regular Americans financing campaigns, as it undermines their pipe dream of somehow eliminating money from the political system. The problem, of course, is that talking to people and organizing costs money and always will. Spending money on communication and working with the American people is not inherently evil. Money is only a problem if the wealthy can buy legislation.

In any case, and predictably so, Fred Wertheimer is having conniptions about Obama's decision to opt out of the public financing system.

Democracy 21 is very disappointed that Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has decided not to accept public financing for his presidential general election campaign.

We had hoped and expected that Senator Obama would stick with the public pledge he made to accept public financing and spending limits for the presidential general election, if he was nominated, and if his Republican opponent also agreed to accept public financing and spending limits for the general election. These conditions have been met.

We do not agree with Senator Obama's rationale for opting out of the system. Senator Obama knew the circumstances surrounding the presidential general election when he made his public pledge to use the system.

This is the same Fred Wertheimer, however, who has long worked with John McCain on these CFR issues, and has turned this campaign season into a series of attacks on Obama. Meanwhile, remember when McCain opted in to public financing in the primary, used that status to gain ballot access and secure a campaign loan, then broke the law by opting out? What do you think Fred Wertheimer said?

He said nothing. After getting much pressure from bloggers and whatnot, he released a statement a statement kind of critical of McCain. When that statement was interpreted as kind of critical of McCain, he released another statement backtracking.

In the minds of these fake "reformers", McCain can do no wrong. He's a long-time ally, and they're now returning the favor by providing cover -- ignoring McCain's lawbreaking, and making much ado about Obama's decision to let the people finance his campaign rather than the government.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:05 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fake reformers with fake straight-shooters: (6+ / 0-)

    a match made in heaven.

    •  Except Obama's a real reformer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brein, CityLightsLover

      The only problem with your formulation there is Obama is a real reformer. He's refusing lobbying and PAC money and making sure the DNC does the same, and he has opened all his and the DNC's fundraising to the public through at least one pool reporter being allowed to be present at every one of those events. If that's not reform, what it? I'll take those kind of changes over public funding any day of the week. Who cares that Obama didn't surrender to McCain? I think it's a good thing Obama is opting out of public financing.

    •  the thing is that mccain has totally betrayed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Dave, brein

      everything that made him appealing to independents in 2000. i was actually happy when he won new hampshire because i figured at least if a repub got elected he would be willing to do whats right even if its not what his party wanted. he has completely flip flopped though. what a sellout.

  •  Obama just saved US taxpayer $80 million (6+ / 0-)

    And apparently McCain just cost us that amount, according to Halperin.  

    John McCain: Healthcare for kids? Not in the Bush-McCain America.

    by bosdcla14 on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:09:13 PM PDT

    •  Not quite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoenix Woman, teacherken

      It's financed by $3 checkoffs, not general revenues, and the excess stays in the fund for 2012 -- and it means we won't have primary candidates with certifications that the FEC can't fund as we did this year.

    •  I won't count that against him. (0+ / 0-)

      Matching funds are the carrot given for the stick of spending limits. If he wants to accept the stick, I won't begrudge the carrot.

      In 2000, a criminal became President. In 2004, we failed to remove him.
      American Democracy, 1787-2004, RIP

      by davewill on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except he's not really accepting the stick (5+ / 0-)

        He's made an open secret of the fact that he's not going to do anything to reign in the 527s from running ads against Obama, which violates the spirit of public financing.  Meanwhile, even though Obama's not accepting the public funds, he's still reigning in the 527s on his side.  Yet somehow McCain's the straight talker?  Excuse me while I cough up this hairball...

        Republicans shaking in their shoes: Now that's a beat I can dance to!

        by writerswrite on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:18:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  IOKIYAR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CityLightsLover

    Of course...

  •  Count me finance reform and term limits, but (0+ / 0-)

    thats too damn extreme. Whew!

  •  Shorter Kos: (0+ / 0-)

    Obama can do no wrong, regardless of how much he flip flops.

    IOKIYBHO

    "We don't need the people, we just need the cash..."-Barack Obama

    by Zero Carb Rob on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:12:30 PM PDT

  •  AP Hit Job (10+ / 0-)

    Liz Sidoti of AP has published an "analysis" that begins: "Barack Obama chose winning over his word."  She and others like her need to be reminded that Obama did not say definitively that he would opt into the public finance system if the Republican candidate did.  Obama said that he would do so only if the Republican candidate agreed to play on a level field, e.g. by not coordinating with the RNC and 527s in a way that gives the Republican a huge financial advantage.  McCain has failed that test, thus compelling Obama to opt out of public financing.

    •  and then, on top of that... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unterhausen, Marc in Oakland, brein

      We need to point out to all the "Suddenly CFR Purists" that if they're to be taken seriously, then they must surely agree that John McCain ought to be sitting in a jail cell for breaking campaign finance law with his primary financing shenanigans, from the "I'm in! Let the cash be my collateral! Oops, I'm out!" hokey pokey, to the on-going law-breaking he's indulging in by spending money beyond the primary cap....

  •  fine, but in the last sentence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mogolori

    it is the people funding the public finance system.

    West Michigan Rising the new blog for progressives to build our left coast -- now live

    by philgoblue on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:13:48 PM PDT

    •  I've got another problem... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davisnn

      When Markos says

      Money is only a problem if the wealthy can buy legislation.

      that's only half the problem.  Actually, it's a third of the problem.  No, a quarter.

      One problem is that money buys speech as well as legislation.  Broadcast space for speech is not infinite, or even finite.  It's scarce.  If you corner the broadcast space, you corner the terms, linguistics and optics of public debate, while simultaneously pleasing the media provider.

      Problem two is, who is "the wealthy"?  Wealthy citizens, voting civic and personal interests, or wealthy public corporations, who are obligated above all else to deliver profits to shareholding investors?  Were wealthy citizens allowed to fund campaigns without obstruction, our $20 bucks would never matter.  Were publicly held corporations allowed to give without restriction, public servants would become nothing more than middlemen.

      Problem three -- money doesn't just buy legislation, it buys and holds legislative seats.  When the Republicans took over House in 1994 by a 54-vote margin, considered an epic political reversal, 88 percent of incumbents held onto their offices.  Incumbency for monied interests is like an insurance policy against the popular will for change.  Money likes safe havens.  And so, money likes Congress under this set of rules.

      Sure, some reformers are dinosaurs, incumbents in their own right who couldn't spell "blog" with a Wired.com glossary.  But progressive governance under Obama or anyone else will not survive the current political money regime set in place by Buckley v. Valeo in 1976.

  •  let's explore the hypocrisy of the response today (9+ / 0-)
    1. McCain has already played footsie around the federal law in the primary.  
    1. He is not sure he can raise significantly more than the approximately 85 Mill he would be given by the feds, and he hopes that those funds will now be switched to RNC and 527s, leveraging his funds - and remember contributions to 527s are not limited and McCain has done NOTHING this cycle to try to cut them off (not that he could)
    1. McCain now talks about trust and about going back on one's word -  does he REALLY want to go there, considering all the meaningful policy positions on which he has been flipflopping?

    I predicted in 2006 that anyone who was going to be competitive this cycle on our side would not only opt out of matching funds for the primaries, but possibly the federal funds for the general. Remember last time Rove moved the Republican primary as late as he could to force Dems to spend general campaign funds while the Repubs were still on primary funds.  This year there is no such significant gap, but the Republican campaign does come later, although it is not clear how much advertising a Democrat would do during the period of the Republican convention.   Traditionally in the past, not that much, but there is no reason not to.  Particularly given the financial advantage.

    And it was interesting to hear Harold Ford JR. calling the decision an advantage to Obama, and talking about the impact it will have all the way down ballot.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:14:07 PM PDT

  •  Don't agree at all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TocqueDeville, phenry

    Money is the problem, whether in $20's or 100,000s

    Sure, 100,000's is a much bigger problem--but here we see Kos guarding his own turf--the fact that he can get thousands of 20s when he wants to.

    "The military industrial complex not only controls our government, lock, stock and barrel, but they control our culture." - Mike Gravel

    by Wilberforce on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:14:17 PM PDT

  •  Hypocrisy knows no bounds fake reformers included (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OR indie, mscharizmaa

    "Everything we do or say should be done or said consciously."

    by TheWesternSun on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:15:18 PM PDT

  •  I decided about 15 years ago that CC was ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brein, divineorder, CityLightsLover

    ... a "controlled vent" designed to offer a blind loop of ineffective pseudo-reform to activist-minded reformers among us.  It provided the dual service of bleeding off our resources and energy while simultaneously discouraging anyone from building a real reform movement in its place.

    That judgment may or may not be correct, but in the intervening time, I have yet to see anything that would change my opinion.

    The one thing that "public financing" arguments ignores is the enormous potential for real grass-roots voluntary and directed support for appealing candidates.  I have argued elsewhere that the corrupting power of money in politics only fills a vacuum where we have deserted the process - until now.

    I believe Obama's policy of not accepting PAC money or donations from lobbyists does far more to enhance the integrity of his campaign than accepting public money would.  In fact, given the structure of his financing, accepting public funds would actually serve to further detach him from the electorate.

    "Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal." - Anon

    by Deighved H Stern MD on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:18:04 PM PDT

  •  Kos, are you going to diary Obama's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mogolori, bten

    endorsement of Barrow over Regina Thomas in GA?

    I wish you would.

    John McCain "Beware the terrible simplifiers" Jacob Burckhardt, Historian

    by notquitedelilah on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:18:09 PM PDT

  •  Money itself is not the problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unterhausen, CityLightsLover

    A billion or two dollars, say, is not an unreasonable amount for a nation of this size and wealth to spend on a critical, quadrennial decision like choosing a President. That's 3-6 dollars per citizen.

    We don't have enough political speech.

    But I think with this announcement Obama should propose ways to shape the GE process to improve the quality of deliberation -- perhaps including an unprecedented number of one on one's with McCain.

    "This what neglected topic? This strangely what topic? This strangely neglected what?" - Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

    by SUBLIMINABILITY on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:20:08 PM PDT

  •  An hour of Tweety and 20 minutes into Gregory... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unterhausen, divineorder, spyguy999

    not a peep out of either of them about McCain's FEC scofflawery... literally breaking the law AND going back on his word...

    I keep waiting for Rachel Maddow to mention it and I can't for the life of me imagine why she hasn't...

    George W. Bush... wiretapping the Amish since 2001...

    by ThatSinger on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:21:31 PM PDT

  •  Is this possible? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unterhausen, brein, CityLightsLover

    I don't know enough and would love some education. Why couldn't we have a system in which the ONLY contributors to a campaign would be registered voters in the candidate's district? No corporations, no PACs, nothing but live humans who are to be represented by that candidate. Low contribution ceiling. Wealthy candidates can not give their campaigns any more than any other person. Money does not equal free speech. Why should a NJ drug company or a Texas oil company be able to elect a senator from Michigan? Why (other than opposition by every incumbent) can't this be done?

    License they mean, when they cry Liberty! - Milton

    by Rocco Gibralter on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:23:35 PM PDT

  •  One sentence says it all (5+ / 0-)

    Money is only a problem if the wealthy can buy legislation.

    Obama's move to be directly accountable to the general public instead of a wealthy few or the government itself is what America is all about. It reflects the can-do pioneering spirit that built this country. When special interests get their claws into something, the effort reflects only the wishes of a select few instead of the greater good.

    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

    by OHeyeO on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:23:48 PM PDT

    •  See my reply to this upthread (0+ / 0-)

      and let me know what you think.

      That sentence grabbed my attention, too..

      •  Here's some thoughts (0+ / 0-)

        Per your comment that money buys speech, you are right.  What is skewed in the main-stream media is deregulation allowing fewer owners a larger share of the media outlets. Fortunately, the internet balances that somewhat, but not enough right now. Grassroots funding is the best hope to keep the internet from being damaged in the same way.

        Per your question "Who is the wealthy?" my take leans toward corporations rather than individuals regarding this discussion. Current rules allow a maximum donation per person directly to a candidate and none by corporations. If a wealthy individual runs, I say use all your own money if you want. Wealthy individuals don't have more direct influence than anyone else. Their corporations, however are where the mischief takes place. The beauty of this election is the small donor candidate was able to raise enough to avoid both public and corporate special interest financing. Somebody had to show it could be done.

        Your third problem is money preventing or slowing change. If the Obama model holds, corporate interests will have to be more responsive to Congress and the general good rather than Congress and the public more responsive to corporate interests. That is change and will be fought. But if change is stopped or suppressed too long, violent upheavals occur. I can't imagine corporations seeing that in their best interest.

        Politics is always a messy and usually scary endeavor. But Obama's campaign is our only shot at any real change. American demographics and world economics are screaming at the need for us to reform our institutions so we can survive. His distancing from special interests makes him the only credible candidate to effect change that's fair to the most Americans.

        There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

        by OHeyeO on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 07:10:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Do it like the Olympics (0+ / 0-)

    Why not hire the same people who get sponsorships for the Olympics to go get sponsorships for the U.S. general elections.

    Let Nike, Sony, the government of Uzbekistan, the AFL-CIO, etc. contribute whatever they want and get logos, banners, etc. at campaign events.

    Maybe we could sell whole-election sponsorships ("The 2012 Volvo General Elections TM") along with lots of little sponsorships (local Democratic Party clubs could, say, get one of 8 logos on the podium when the candidates come into town to debate).

    Candidates could prove they were serious candidates by raising whatever money they need to get through the campaigns. Or maybe we could also have primary campaign sponsorships.

    If we had a sponsorship system, whatever influence there was would be transparent (e.g., you'd see the logo behind the candidates), and, more important, the candidates wouldn't have to waste all of their time raising money, and the donors themselves wouldn't have to go through contortions to contribute the money.

    Keep in mind that the donors, mostly, would just as soon not have to give all that much money. It's the lobbyists (in the real world: nice, mostly middle of the road folks who want fun office jobs in Washington) who want to keep the current system around, mainly because the more money that flows through the system, the more they earn and the more friends they can get employed.

    If you could find some system that would continue to let lobbyists have fun, interesting, well-paid jobs without them having to beg their peeps for PAC money, maybe they would at least secretly be rooting for the plan.

  •  "We the People" Really Do (0+ / 0-)

    scare those belt - way types, huh? Heaven forbid lil' ol me with my occasional $25 or $50 contribution to the political candidate of my choice have any influence on policy that will affect my life. That could lead into thoughts of world domination or something. OOOOOOoooooooo!

    "Get a Roll of Stamps and, and Mail It In." Keith Olbermann

    by CityLightsLover on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:29:37 PM PDT

  •  First: tell the truth, Fred. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brein, OR indie, CityLightsLover

    Obama said he would opt in if agreements could be reached. Gaming the system (as McCain has does with his sleazy use of public funds in the primary), flat-out saying he wouldn't referee the 527's -- these are dealbreakers.  Public financing turns the entire system over to 527's, and give millionaires control of the air waves and tie the hands of the candidates.  527's were a loophole in -- drumroll, please -- McCain-Feingold.  

    Obama said he would opt in if agreements could be reached.  What exactly does that mean to John McCain, since he wouldn't even abide by the law as it now stands, much less an "agreement"? We don't even have a quorum at the FEC -- so who enforces anything?  

    This is a welcome post, Kos.  Money, $20 at a time is not the same as lobbyists buying legislation.  

    And I also have to ask:  McCain is at fundraisers instead of answering simple questions about flooding along the Mississippi.  Where does this money go, if not into his campaign?  

    Hypocrites.  

    Obama should have been better prepared for this with stronger statements about how McCain has handled his campaign's fundraising so far.  I consider my couple a hundred bucks that I've sent to Obama as "public financing".  

    I knew he'd take a hit when he opted out.  But the press is having more of a field day than I anticipated.  

    Obama's got to be more ready for these kinds of attacks.

  •  So what do you propose as an alternative Kos? (0+ / 0-)

    Its one thing to berate people for taking a particularly strong stand on an issue and another to propose a solution.  How do you propose that we rid "big money" out of campaigns?  Or do you just like your position as an ActBlue bundler?  Talk about so-called "reformers."

    Politicians cannot be depended upon to act in the interests of the public in the absence of collective pressure.

    by Reframing the Debate on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:33:19 PM PDT

  •  Wait until I call in my "favor" for my (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bigjonmustafa, CityLightsLover

    $150 contribution.

    "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

    by lordcopper on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:33:40 PM PDT

  •  Who needs an oligarchy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, CityLightsLover

    I put more trust in to the intelligence of the huge number of people giving small amounts to candidates this year.

    I hope this will be a long lasting change for the USA.

    George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    by Maaarrrk on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:34:31 PM PDT

  •  So My feeble $100 is no good here!?!??!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CityLightsLover

  •  I sense that the majority of Americans, of all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CityLightsLover

    stripes and economic backgrounds, simply do not give a flying shit about whether or not Obama takes public financing. This is a dead issue, and McCain will not benefit from it.

  •  Hey, wait a minute. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bigjonmustafa

    You're saying that I can't expect even a little quid pro quo for my $100 contribution distributed equally between the original 10 orange-to-blue candidates?  Because small-dollar contributions don't come with strings attached?

    Aww.  That makes me sad.

    I'm not dating Edwards anymore, but I still call out his name when I vote.

    by sagra on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 03:42:50 PM PDT

  •  I don't actually think the campaign Reformer's (0+ / 0-)
    want to eliminate cash from the equasion. I think they are trying to protect their interests.
  •  Why doesn't McCain refuse money from lobbyists? (0+ / 0-)

    In this little brouhaha over public financing, the media and some of us seem to forget that just a short time ago Obama made a REAL change to the way his campaign is being run. Obama is refusing PAC money, lobbyist money, and opening up all of his fundraisers to at least a single pool reporter. And, Obama has ordered the DNC to follow the same self-imposed rules.

    THAT's real reform for you.

    Why doesn't Johnny McCain put his "reformist" mouth where his money ought to be and pledge to take those same steps? Forget public financing, throwing the PAC and lobbyist money out of a campaign attacks the problem right at it's root, instead of treating symptoms, at best, like the public financing does.

    I think McCain won't self-impose those kinds of rules on his campaign because he won't raise hardly any money at all like that. McCain need PAC and lobby money, and the more hidden it is from the public, the better it is for old Johnny McCain.

    Public financing is not an issue, it's a canard to hide who is paying for Johnny McOld's campaign.

  •  Looks Bad for BHO (0+ / 0-)

    Looks like a hypocrit and flip-flopper. Your wrong if you don't think the American people will see the importance of this.

    •  Naw, lots of grannies will see this as good! (0+ / 0-)

      And lots of grannie lovers, too, IMHO.

      Its a start, and not a terrible one.  Not as good as his speeches, but , hey, 30 sec is a crapshoot.

    •  Umm...I think McCain flip flopping on (0+ / 0-)

      Comprehensive Immigration Reform
      Off-shore Drilling
      ANWR Drilling
      Torture
      and Social Security Privatization

      is probably going to resonate a little more than public financing of elections, especially when Obama has over 1 million people donating to his campaign.

      "Never separate the life you live from the words you speak" -Paul Wellstone

      by WellstoneDem on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 05:11:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have given money to the Obama.... (0+ / 0-)

    campaign and have no problem with him opting out of public financing, but it is going to be an issue.  I just wish he had never said he would go the public financing route.  He's still gonna win, but he will have to deal with the fact that he changed his mind.  

  •  this is why I unsubscribed from Common Cause (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raatz

    I really couldn't hear any more about the evils of stuff that I knew, clearly, wasn't evil.

    It just started seeming disingenuous.

  •  Didn't Wertheimer used to be a prominent (0+ / 0-)

    progressive? I seem to recall that he had a weekly spot on Pacifica radio back in the '80s. I could be wrong, but I had always associated him with the Democrats.

    "Pardon me, I thought you were a trout stream"

    by frankzappatista on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 04:07:05 PM PDT

  •  What a bunch of shit (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phenry, Albanius, nonnie9999, cjallen

    Are massive amounts of small contributions an antidote to our government being bought and paid for by monied interests?

    No. But it helps.

    Is there a more important issue than our politicians being bought and paid for?

    No.

    So, people want to clean up our political system and they want to do it by removing all money from the equation. I agree. But I also see the argument that small contributions are somewhat of a solution.

    Problem is, most Americans can't afford to buy back our politicians. They're very expensive. Especially the ones who most need to have our politicians represent them again. It's not the poor and working classes who are funding Obama's record breaking campaign. It's the political class.

    And all of that Obama magic ain't going to buy back the House, Senate, state Governors, Judges, DAs, Mayors and city council members.

    You  got that?

    Only with publicly funded elections will we truly wrestle back our whole government, not just the White House and a few house and senate seats.

    The "pipe dream" is thinking that the American people can own their government again with $100 contributions.

    Why the need to demonize these people just because you disagree with them?

    You would have more credibility if you left out the hostility. How evil of people to want to get the corruption of money out of politics.

    Especially from you, who's seen your political star rise almost exclusively from the amount of money you and your groups can raise for a small number of candidates online.

    So anyone else who isn't drinking the netroots revolution kool-aid is a "fake reformer"?

    Nice try.

  •  Hello! (0+ / 0-)

    mccain then looks into the cameras and tries to put on a puppy dog face to shame Sen. Obama by using a rehearsed snippet. Nice golf caps. Pathetic!

    Sandbags!

  •  Wertheimer Can't See the Forest for the Trees (0+ / 0-)

    I worked with Fred Wertheimer years ago in the early days of Common Cause.  He and CC got many important reforms passed -- sunshine meeting laws, etc.

    But, Kos is exactly right that the goal in campaign finance laws is to remove/reduce the influence of large donors -- the ones who expect to write legislation and/or influence receive policy decisions that favor them and their interests.

    I don't know whether Fred has compromised himself through his long-standing association with McCain or what.  But, he certainly has lost sight of the real purpose of campaign finance reform -- restoring democratic control to the campaign and election process.

  •  Kos is right on this (0+ / 0-)

    It is not money because Federal Financing is money. It is the type of money that buys influence for an industry or a lobbyist (for an industry or private investor etc.)

    The key is a large contributor base so that the money is diffused. That defines Obama's situation.

    I tire of pearl clutchers.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 04:37:43 PM PDT

  •  Donate the IRS checkoff to the Obama campaign. (0+ / 0-)

    I think that Barack Obama is making the right decision by not accepting public financing.  Kos is absolutely right about the idea about campaign finance reform. It's not the money that's the problem, it's the influence.
    So, I've decided, to commemorate this important decision, I am donating $3 to the Obama campaign--this is the same amount as the checkoff on the tax form.  That is my commitment to a new type of public financing by all Americans.

  •  Make reform simple (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davisnn

    I'd make these simple reforms:
    Only registered voters (real people, not committees) can put up any money that any way influences an election.

    The registered voters putting up the money can only put their money for a candidate they're eligible to vote for...the whole country for president, the whole state for senator, only residents of the district for representative, etc.

    These contributors can send their money to any candidate that meets the rules above, but not to both candidates in a race...pick one and stick to that one as long as they're still in the race.  No more giving to both to buy influence from whomever wins.

  •  Campaign "reform" has always seemed (0+ / 0-)

    to favor incumbents, squeeze out third parties, and place questionable restrictions on things that seem a whole lot like Constitutionally protected free speech.

    Full disclosure is the better approach in a world where it is finally feasible to drum up millions from small donors who give amounts they can keep giving month after month after month.

    If you can imagine a million people donating $50 a month -- and that doesn't seem ridiculous -- you're talking about a $600 million money machine over the course of a year.  High falutin' and wildly optimistic?  Sure...But look at some of the numbers from this years campaigns and maybe not so far.

    At any rate -- little folk outnumber rich folk by a bunch.  We can bankrupt the fat cats without feeling much pinch ourselves.

    Now THAT is campaign finance reform.

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 07:36:09 PM PDT

  •  FREE MEDIA (0+ / 0-)

    I know its a regulatory nightmare, but the only sensible solution is to force at least the broadcast media who enjoy the benefits of the business they conduct over public air to provide free air time to candidates.

  •  One Dollar One Vote (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, that's the way this country should pick its leaders.

    It's over. Let it go.

    by phenry on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 08:25:00 PM PDT

  •  NYT talks about it day after Kos (0+ / 0-)
  •  I'm pretty disappointed (0+ / 0-)

    Obama's move seems so Clintonian....Must be from signing on all the DLC hacks to his campaign.

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