Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama's no to public financing: So?

There's been a lot of huffing and puffing about Obama's decision not to use public financing for his presidential campaign. But the law that created public financing is indeed broken, as Obama said in his video statement Thursday explaining his decision. The $85 million spending limit for each presidential candidate between the end of August (when the national conventions are held) and Election Day on Nov. 4 is a joke. In the Democratic primaries, Obama spent nearly $220 million in the Democratic primaries. The spending lid imposed by public financing does not cover "soft" money or what the national political parties can spend. The Republican National Committee has a war chest of $41 million to support McCain's presidential campaign, while the Democratic National Committee has a paltry $5 million.

Among the broken pieces of public financing is the Federal Election Commission, which is charged with regulating federal finance laws. In this hot political season, there's a stack of thorny campaign-related issues waiting on decision by the FEC. It's supposed to have six commissioners, but because of various maneuvering, involving both major political parties, there are only two sitting commissioners.

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