Saturday, June 21, 2008

Private Money

Much tut-tutting over Barack Obama's decision not to accept public funding for his general election campagin. Well, there is some basis for it -- Obama did almost, if not exactly, say previously that he would take public funding if his opponent did the same (what he actually said was that he would "aggressively pursue" an agreement with his opponent to use public financing).

But really, I am a little perplexed. I was never too impressed with Democrats who complained when George Bush rejected public financing for primaries. Public financing is not a command, it's a bargain -- the public will agree to finance your presidential campaign if you agree not to spend more than the designated amount. Take it or leave it -- there's no obligation to accept the bargain. So accusations by Democrats that there would be something nefarious about a Republican's refusing to take public funding (likely because he could raise more privately) always struck me as underwhelming.

But for Republicans to complain when a Democrat doesn't take public financing is absurd. Republicans are against public funding! They don't like public provision of anything that could be done privately. Their stance should be that public financing of campaigns is a huge, wasteful, government giveaway that should be abolished.

Oh, wait, that is their stance: here's George Will two years ago calling the likely abandonment of public funding by the 2008 presidential candidates "unalloyed good news." He called the prospect "delicious."

So forgive me if I sense just a little hypocrisy in Republican criticism of a Democrat for raising his campaign money from the private sector. I didn't think much of the criticism when it came from Democrats, and when it comes from Republicans, it's really too much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe there ought to be a second box to check on the 1040 tax forms next time that lets us reduce the amount that goes to public funding by 50 cents, if we checked the $1°° box last time, since only one candidate will be taking the money.