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Old 20th July 2010, 07:45 PM   #1
The Charnel Expanse
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Are there any compelling arguments AGAINST publicly funded elections?

If there are, I haven't seen them.
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Old 20th July 2010, 07:50 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
If there are, I haven't seen them.
So you haven't been compelled by any of the arguments on Topic X. Is your lack of compulsion significant in some way?
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:11 PM   #3
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On a more cooperative note, here's mine:

Politicians already manage to get themselves funded just fine, without forcing more money out of my pocket.

Since there's little enough money in my pocket already, I'd prefer to keep as much of it as possible and take my chances with the "special interests".
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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Ok, I'll stand up and admit I don't understand the idea behind the concept.

This seems like a way to fund extremist candidates who don't have enough support to raise their own funds.

Public funding of elections seems sort of lazy to me - to just put money into a big fund where anyone running (and yeah, qualifies somehow) can have it. I understand that sure, special interests are bad, but are they always bad? Usually because they are not MY special interests, but they must be someone else's or they would not have the power they do.

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Old 20th July 2010, 08:20 PM   #5
The Charnel Expanse
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
On a more cooperative note, here's mine:

Politicians already manage to get themselves funded just fine, without forcing more money out of my pocket.

Since there's little enough money in my pocket already, I'd prefer to keep as much of it as possible and take my chances with the "special interests".
Which is not a compelling argument because I'm talking about eliminating private donations all together.

And if you do a cost/benefit analysis of public campaign financing versus public money given to "special interests" as reward for private campaign donations, I think you'll come to the conclusion that public financing is far less offensive to the pragmatic fiscal conservative.
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kopji View Post
Ok, I'll stand up and admit I don't understand the idea behind the concept.

This seems like a way to fund extremist candidates who don't have enough support to raise their own funds.
Very easy way around this. We have something similar in place now. If you don't get enough signatures of support you can't can't receive public money.
You could still self-finance, of course.
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
Very easy way around this. We have something similar in place now. If you don't get enough signatures of support you can't can't receive public money.
You could still self-finance, of course.
So what is this supposed to solve? Joe Schmo still won't haver nearly the war chest the big party candidate does.
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
Which is not a compelling argument...
Please be clear: This is not a compelling argument to you. My initial reply to your OP still stands: Is there something special about your lack of compulsion in the face of arguments, that makes it universally significant?

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...because I'm talking about eliminating private donations all together.
Exactly. You're talking about replacing other people's money with my money. By force. To me, that seems like a pretty compelling argument for leaving my money the heck alone.

Quote:
And if you do a cost/benefit analysis of public campaign financing versus public money given to "special interests" as reward for private campaign donations, I think you'll come to the conclusion that public financing is far less offensive to the pragmatic fiscal conservative.
My cost/benefit analysis includes the fact that some special interests coincide with my own. Undoubtedly some of the things you would consider "costs", I would consider "benefits".

But it's clear you didn't start this thread to consider competing arguments for or against public campaign financing, but rather to parade your own predetermined conclusions.

Why not be honest with us and with yourself, abandon this thread, and start a new one titled "Why I think public campaign financing is a good idea"?

ETA: Also, what exactly is it about public campaign financing that you believe will neutralize special interests? Do you think that once they're prevented from donating openly to political campaigns, all these corporations and unions and so on will promptly give up on trying to influence government, and that politicians will be free to nobly carry out the will of the people without ever again having to engage in any quid pro quo?

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Old 20th July 2010, 08:49 PM   #9
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Because if you fund everybody equally, it gives Incubnents a huge advantage.
But I am in favor of putting severe limits on how much can be spent in a campaign.
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Old 20th July 2010, 08:55 PM   #10
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We have a little checkbox on either the state tax form, or the ballot (can't remember which). It says something like: 'would you like to donate $1 to the public campaign fund? Check yes.

So I just wonder where the dollar goes if I check yes. And if everyone checked yes, how they would make up those dollars. When the elections are going on, I hear different strategies about if a candidate is going to use public funds or not. They seem to merit different amounts somehow. Regardless, I can always predict the loser, because they are the one using public funds, pitted against... well mostly really rich people spending their own money or raiding their business for money.

So... I feel like by putting a check in the box I'm either backing a loser, or dooming a winner.
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Old 20th July 2010, 09:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Because if you fund everybody equally, it gives Incubnents a huge advantage.
But I am in favor of putting severe limits on how much can be spent in a campaign.
The best way I have seen it done is to back fill the funding based on percentage of vote recieved, but only to a specific formular. You impose a minimum percentage, say 3% to stop the full blown nut jobs getting a run
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Old 21st July 2010, 07:40 AM   #12
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There are plenty of ways to weed out nutjobs and extremists.

You're going to have to explain the huge advantage of incumbency in such a system. Incumbents have a huge advantage anyway. Especially in the House.
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Old 21st July 2010, 09:31 AM   #13
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Well, for starters, what do you do about primary elections? Do you fund challengers to the incumbent equally with the incumbent? One of the signal advantages of the current system is that it requires candidates to prove to donors that they have some chance of winning. I am comfortable with that with private individuals as the gatekeepers to the money: I would be significantly less comfortable with some government-appointed board in that position.
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Old 21st July 2010, 10:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Well, for starters, what do you do about primary elections? Do you fund challengers to the incumbent equally with the incumbent? One of the signal advantages of the current system is that it requires candidates to prove to donors that they have some chance of winning. I am comfortable with that with private individuals as the gatekeepers to the money: I would be significantly less comfortable with some government-appointed board in that position.
I am less in favor of funding and more in favor of putting limits on how much can be spent,with some increase for non incumbents.
BUt I am very worried about what happened in California where, basically, the Two major GOP cadidates (for senator and governor) bought the nomination.
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Old 21st July 2010, 02:55 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I am less in favor of funding and more in favor of putting limits on how much can be spent,with some increase for non incumbents.
BUt I am very worried about what happened in California where, basically, the Two major GOP cadidates (for senator and governor) bought the nomination.
With the American system of primaries then the election this is a more sensible suggestion. And a formula would be easy to establish = X amount per voting age person involved. Obviously depending on Governor or Pres, that amount would be a sliding scale
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Old 21st July 2010, 03:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
If there are, I haven't seen them.
It costs money.

Seriously, that's an argument against it, and a valid one. I'm a little surprised it never occurred to you. Whether it's a strong enough argument depends on how much it costs, and how much benefit you think it provides, but you can't ignore the dollar cost.
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Old 21st July 2010, 03:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
If there are, I haven't seen them.
The argument from ignorance fallacy notwithstanding...

There are many good arguments against the public financing of elections. Is this a serious question?
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Old 21st July 2010, 05:03 PM   #18
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There are enough sufficiently good arguments that a Proposition in the last California election that proposed it as an experiment for only one office for only two elections went down to defeat.
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Old 21st July 2010, 05:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
It costs money.

Seriously, that's an argument against it, and a valid one. I'm a little surprised it never occurred to you. Whether it's a strong enough argument depends on how much it costs, and how much benefit you think it provides, but you can't ignore the dollar cost.
TCE is aware of this argument, he just thinks it's not "compelling".
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Old 21st July 2010, 06:02 PM   #20
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I've always thought steering away from special interest funding is the best way to go (in a lot of cases it's basically a bribe, but I'm not going to get into that), but I've never been able to come up with a good idea on how to do it. I thought of the special interest groups donating to a central fund and not having it come out of taxpayer dollars unless they volunteer. But then what's the incentive for special interests to donate, love of the electoral system? I doubt that will work. Maybe they could donate to the party itself, but that's not really any different than what's happening now.

Unfortunately, most of my ideas on the subject are way too idealist to actually work, plus there's a lot of problems with it I can't think my way out of. *shrug*
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Old 21st July 2010, 07:56 PM   #21
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Such a law is oppressive to millionaires and billionaires. The Left just seeks to repress the rich (because they're rich), while the poor lord it over everyone else.
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Old 21st July 2010, 07:59 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
Such a law is oppressive to millionaires and billionaires.
How so? Do millionaires and billionaires really lose their power over the political process, by passing such a law?

Quote:
The Left just seeks to repress the rich (because they're rich), while the poor lord it over everyone else.
Since this law would require taxpayers to pay more taxes, and would not credibly alter the ability of the rich to influence politics, I think the actual effect would be the opposite of what you claim.
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Old 21st July 2010, 08:21 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
How so? Do millionaires and billionaires really lose their power over the political process, by passing such a law?
Sure, it would probably diminish their power. Would they lose power? Any country is almost invariably going to be run by the richest people.

Quote:
Since this law would require taxpayers to pay more taxes, and would not credibly alter the ability of the rich to influence politics, I think the actual effect would be the opposite of what you claim.
Not necessarily. Companies do not donate money out of the goodness of their non-existent heart. Campaign contributions are a kind of investment, and the return comes at taxpayer expense.

But let's just naively take your argument at face-value and suppose that it will cost taxpayers more money. How much more? A more democratic system -- one person, one vote rather than one dollar, one vote -- is not worth that savings?

Not only is the arms race for public election economically inefficient, but it's offensive on purely aesthetic grounds. Rich people are better off blowing that coin on over-priced cars and awful plastic surgeries.
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Old 21st July 2010, 08:31 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
Sure, it would probably diminish their power. Would they lose power? Any country is almost invariably going to be run by the richest people.



Not necessarily. Companies do not donate money out of the goodness of their non-existent heart. Campaign contributions are a kind of investment, and the return comes at taxpayer expense.

But let's just naively take your argument at face-value and suppose that it will cost taxpayers more money. How much more? A more democratic system -- one person, one vote rather than one dollar, one vote -- is not worth that savings?

Not only is the arms race for public election economically inefficient, but it's offensive on purely aesthetic grounds. Rich people are better off blowing that coin on over-priced cars and awful plastic surgeries.
And yet many rich people seem to think they're better off using their wealth to influence political outcomes.

I have yet to see a compelling argument that public campaign financing will either remove the desire of the wealthy to influence politics, or remove their ability to do so in any significant way.

Thus, the only practical outcome of public campaign financing is that wealthy people with an interest in politics will continue converting their dollars into votes by a variety of methods (just as they do now), plus the rest of us will be compelled to pay for a potemkin reform. In all, public campaign financing is a net loss for average citizens, no better at all for those too poor to pay taxes in the first place, and at best a minor annoyance for the people with money to burn.
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Old 21st July 2010, 08:53 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And yet many rich people seem to think they're better off using their wealth to influence political outcomes.
As well as industries and unions.

Quote:
I have yet to see a compelling argument that public campaign financing will either remove the desire of the wealthy to influence politics...
This is ********. Campaign finance reform is not about removing anyone's interest in influencing political outcomes. Rather, it's about reducing the influence of money in determining political outcomes.

Quote:
or remove their ability to do so in any significant way.
This could be the case and still be mistaken. Suppose a player in some game manages to consistently win due to an unfair advantage. Other players close the loophole and he STILL manages to consistently win. Maybe he wins even more now. Does that mean the policy is meaningless? No, it's better that he influences the outcome of the game by legitimate rather than non-legitimate means.

Something remarkable has been missing from your posts, and it's an underlying philosophical view. Suppose someone can produce convincing evidence demonstrating that publicly funded elections erodes the power of wealth. It does not necessarily follow that we should institute such reforms. Some people *cough*resident Republicans*cough* prefer the wealthy having an influence beyond their numbers. Others, maybe slightly more high-minded, maintain that money = speech, and limiting this $$$$$ free speech is wrong.

Quote:
Thus, the only practical outcome of public campaign financing is that wealthy people with an interest in politics will continue converting their dollars into votes by a variety of methods (just as they do now), plus the rest of us will be compelled to pay for a potemkin reform. In all, public campaign financing is a net loss for average citizens, no better at all for those too poor to pay taxes in the first place, and at best a minor annoyance for the people with money to burn.
Do you have any cross-national data to support above speculation upon speculation?

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Old 21st July 2010, 10:04 PM   #26
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I'm sort of curious, because we actually have such a law here in Arizona, and have had it for about 10 years.

Quote:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/...nto-arizo.html

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped Arizona from distributing campaign subsidies to publicly funded candidates facing big-spending opponents.

The court granted a stay request from opponents of a decade-old law that subsidizes state candidates who agree to spend only public money on their campaigns. The high court will decide whether to review lower court decisions.

June 2010
That's actually a pretty good reason not to give one cent, but I'm still trying to understand the reasoning of it. I'm definitely not getting something, so I might be mistaken and this is a really cool law, not just another stupid Arizona law like some others I won't mention.

This is where the idea seems really twisty to me:

Jan Brewer is running for governor. Now, she is already pretty rich but would like to use that money for things other than her election. (She has some legal costs). She has declared herself as a 'public funding' candidate and as far as I can tell would get about 2.5 million of the state's public fund money to run.

Ouch, that seems like a lot. Barring the Supreme court action, I'm paying for a rich politician to win against other people in her own party primary. Does that sound correct?

Quote:
...new subsidies are doled out according to the fundraising and spending of their privately financed opponents.

But those candidates, some of whom are self-financed, say the law forces them to limit their spending to avoid triggering more public money for their opponents.
Ok yes, I've seen it have that effect. There was a complaint about this from the libertarians a couple years ago. I'm trying to remember what it was... Something like if the Libertarian candidate paid their own way, they were bound to be defeated by candidates getting public matching funds. So Libertarian candidates needed to use public funding to have a chance of winning - or something like that. (I'm probably setting myself up to be corrected).
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Old 22nd July 2010, 08:01 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
If there are, I haven't seen them.
There sure as hell are -- You are letting those in power decide how much money may be spent to kick them out of office.

That is way, way, way more than sufficient.



I suspect your memetic defense mechanisms will kick in now, and you will regurgitate statements minimizing this as a problem and/or maximizing ZOMG CORRUPTION MONEY MONEY MONEY as a problem.


The appearance of corruption is not more important than free speech.

Corruption is not more important than free speech.
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Old 22nd July 2010, 06:43 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I am less in favor of funding and more in favor of putting limits on how much can be spent,with some increase for non incumbents.
BUt I am very worried about what happened in California where, basically, the Two major GOP cadidates (for senator and governor) bought the nomination.
Already the subject of a Supreme Court decision which held it was unconstitutional to limit the amount that an individual could spend on his or her own campaign. Ergo, the only real way to give less wealthy challengers a chance is ironically to eliminate the limits on how much people can donate to others' campaigns.
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Old 25th July 2010, 12:11 PM   #29
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The Fair Elections Now Act

There is actually a publicly funded elections bill in Congress (The Fair Elections Now Act) with considerable support. I think it addresses many of the concerns raised in this discussion so far. It provides public funding to candidates who can demonstrate significant popular support by raising a fairly large amount of money ($50K for a US House candidate) from 1,500 people in their state. No donation can be larger than $100, no business or labor donations, no PACs.

The original question, "Are there any compelling arguments AGAINST publicly funded elections?" is an excellent one. I say "NO", unless you are an incumbent or the financial patron of an incumbent. By rewarding/protecting their patrons, incumbents almost always have more money to campaign with and they almost always win. Often they go unchallenged.

Here is a link that examines the most common arguments against publicly funded elections -
citizenfundedelections.org/ArgumentsAgainst.html

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Old 25th July 2010, 12:32 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
Not necessarily. Companies do not donate money out of the goodness of their non-existent heart. Campaign contributions are a kind of investment, and the return comes at taxpayer expense.
Well, not just companies. Unions, industry groups, other political interest groups, etc. etc. Pretty much any "group" of people is donating with some expectation in hand.

So why not just abolish organizations from donating, and only allow the donations of private citizens?

ETA: And yes, I am talking in a hypothetical, since this is likely unconstitutional and would require an amendment to do.

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Old 26th July 2010, 01:39 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by The Charnel Expanse View Post
There are plenty of ways to weed out nutjobs and extremists.
Umm... Ok. Please, tell me, how exactly would you propose to weed out "nutjobs", yet still allow funding to be put in place for parties with a reasonable (although minority) view?

Here in Canada, we have several "main" political parties... Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Bloc., etc. We also have the "Green Party", which, up until the year 2000 never received more than 1% of the vote (and still has yet to win a seat). Yet even though I would be unlikely to vote 'green', I don't think they're any more "nutjobs" than any of the main parties.

At one point we also had the Rhinoceros party, a joke party who once had as their platform a plan to "repeal the law of gravity", and while this party also had never won a seat, they had received more than 1% of the vote in at least one election.

So, how exactly would you suggest we ensure real parties (like the Green Party) get funded while joke parties (like the Rhinoceros party) get no funding?
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Old 2nd August 2010, 07:28 AM   #32
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Nut jobs

The Fair Election Now Act (now in Congress) allows candidates for the House of Reps. to qualify for public funding if they can collect 1,500 signatures and $50,000 from people in their state. The maximum individual donation is $100, (PAC, union, businesses money not permitted).

While it may be true that an individual or small group of people can collect 1,500 signatures, it is a much harder job to get citizens to write checks. This is a pretty high hurdle for potential candidates to pass and should keep out candidates who lack substantial community support.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 08:18 AM   #33
Brainster
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
So, how exactly would you suggest we ensure real parties (like the Green Party) get funded while joke parties (like the Rhinoceros party) get no funding?
Errr, the Green Party is not a joke party? They nominated Cynthia McKinney for president last time around.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 01:18 PM   #34
Beerina
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Originally Posted by Frank Kirkwood View Post
The Fair Election Now Act (now in Congress) allows candidates for the House of Reps. to qualify for public funding if they can collect 1,500 signatures and $50,000 from people in their state. The maximum individual donation is $100, (PAC, union, businesses money not permitted).

While it may be true that an individual or small group of people can collect 1,500 signatures, it is a much harder job to get citizens to write checks. This is a pretty high hurdle for potential candidates to pass and should keep out candidates who lack substantial community support.

From a summary of the Fair Election Now Act:

Quote:
If a participating candidate is facing a well-financed or self-financed opponent, or is the target of an independent expenditure, they will be able to respond by utilizing this matching fund provision.
I thought something similar was already tossed as unconstitutional.

Ahh, yes, good old George Will:

Quote:
The Supreme Court has blocked implementation of Arizona's Clean Elections Act. Under it, candidates who accept taxpayer funding of their campaigns receive extra infusions of tax dollars to match funds raised by competitors who choose to rely on voluntary contributions. The law punishes people who do not take taxpayer funds. Its purpose, which the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional, is to restrict spending -- and the dissemination of speech that spending enables -- in order to equalize candidates' financial assets. This favors incumbents, who have the myriad advantages of office. And it is patently intended to cripple candidates funded by voluntary contributions: Who wants to give to a candidate when the donation will trigger a nearly dollar-for-dollar gift to the candidate -- or candidates -- the contributor opposes?
Right there at the end is the corruption and evil in said plan. Good riddance. It's DOA.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 02:58 PM   #35
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publicly funded elections means my tax dollars go to people I hate...or even people who hate me.

it means my tax dollars would have gone to Pat Buchanan, known bigot.

some would see that as being unfare.
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Old 5th August 2010, 05:50 AM   #36
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Dear Beerina, George Will and Thunder,

The feature of the Arizona Clean Elections Law that the Court found unconstitutional was that the behavior of a non-publicly funded candidate was the trigger to supply the publicly funded candidate with additional public funding. The Fair Elections Now Act was written in 2009 anticipating this ruling from the Court. The summary you quote is misleading in that it suggests that there is a trigger mechanism at work but there is not. Publicly funded candidates may raise contributions (up to $100) which are matched at 4 to 1 with public money, regardless of the behavior of the other candidate. The act of giving money to a privately funded candidate has no effect on the amount of money that the publicly funded candidate receives. Therefore, Will's comments do not apply to the Fair Elections Now Act.

As far as some of your tax dollars going to people you don't agree with, please keep in mind that, once they are elected, these people may be spending ALL of your tax dollars on things you don't agree with. The way it is now, the candidates who can raise large amounts of cash (and that is almost always the incumbent) can scare away or crush any opponent. Doesn't it make sense to spend a small amount of public money so that we citizens can have some say in how the rest of it is spent?
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Old 5th August 2010, 08:02 AM   #37
Grizzly Adams
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Originally Posted by Frank Kirkwood View Post
Doesn't it make sense to spend a small amount of public money so that we citizens can have some say in how the rest of it is spent?
We already do this. Voting machines, polling areas, election judges, etc...
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Old 5th August 2010, 08:41 AM   #38
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a legitimate cost of being a self-governing people

Challengers to incumbents who have less than $700,000 to campaign with defeat the incumbent less than 1% of the time.

READ - youstreet.org/sites/default/files/Does%20Money%20Buy%20Elections%20-%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

Elections where only one candidate (and it is almost always the incumbent) has enough money to run a campaign are not competitive elections. The winner is not determined by the ability to persuade voters but rather by the ability to raise campaign money. That is how we have ended up with a Congress that represents the campaign funders, not the constituents.

The cost of election campaigning is a legitimate cost of being a self-governing people. If your interest is in saving money, perhaps you would be willing to let the people who fund campaigns also pay your representatives' salaries and living expenses. They would be more than happy to do it!!! And for all the same reasons they now pay for campaigns.
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Old 5th August 2010, 08:53 AM   #39
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[quote=Frank Kirkwood;6195961]The winner is not determined by the ability to persuade voters but rather by the ability to raise campaign money./QUOTE]

I have yet to see an election where money, not people, casts votes.
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Old 5th August 2010, 09:08 AM   #40
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Please clarify

[quote=Grizzly Adams;6196003]
Originally Posted by Frank Kirkwood View Post
The winner is not determined by the ability to persuade voters but rather by the ability to raise campaign money./QUOTE]

I have yet to see an election where money, not people, casts votes.
Dear Grizzly Adams,
I am uncertain as to whether you truly do not understand the purpose, effect, and expense of a political campaign. Please clarify.
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