Obama to Congress: Fix that presidential campaign fund I won’t use
posted at 12:15 pm on January 26, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Two weeks ago, the White House announced that Barack Obama’s re-election campaign would open its doors in March to start raising funds for the 2012 campaign. Obama intends on raising a billion dollars to win a second term, the Wall Street Journal reports, and that requires an early start. So today’s message to Congress to fix the public financing system for presidential elections rings a tad bit hollow, to say the least:
The Obama administration issued a statement strongly opposing a House bill that would eliminate the public financing system for presidential primaries and campaigns, arguing the system must be “fixed rather than dismantled.”
Created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the system is intended “to free the nation’s elections from the influence of corporations and other wealthy special interests,” the statement says. “It has done so at minimal cost to taxpayers, who fund it by voluntarily choosing to direct $3 of their federal taxes to this beneficial system.”
What a principled stand! Why, what dastardly presidential candidate would willingly avoid the spending caps that keep “corporations and other wealthy special interests” from influencing presidential elections? Er …
In the 2008 campaign, however, President Barack Obama opted out of the public financing system during the general election, becoming the first major-party candidate to do so. Instead, his campaign raised more than $1 billion in donations, a record-breaking haul that funded a successful 50-state strategy to win the White House.
At the time, Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, accused Obama of reneging on his promise to publicly fund his campaign. But Obama’s campaign said it raised its money from millions of individual donors who contributed small amounts of cash.
It doesn’t appear that Obama wants to use it this year, either. Let’s not forget that Obama has been President for over two years, and that his party had solid control of Congress during that period. How many proposals has Obama sent to Capitol Hill to fix rather than dismantle the presidential campaign funding system?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Obama warns what dismantling the system would mean:
If the House bill passed, “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,” according to the statement.
You know, he’s right! We might have a President who tells his opposition that they should wait until 2012 to campaign while launching his own re-election bid ten months earlier, and have a President who appoints crony CEOs to window-dressing economic policy boards. Perish the thought!
If Obama wants to save the system, then he should publicly commit to staying within it in 2012 and disband his fundraising apparatus forthwith, and propose an actual “fix.” Otherwise, he should keep his mouth shut.