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Obama's Switcheroo

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Obama's Switcheroo

April 11, 2008; Page A16

Barack Obama declared this week that he has created a "parallel public financing system." Come again? Let him explain: Under parallel public financing, "the American people decide if they want to support a campaign, they can get on the Internet and finance it."

Up to this moment, "public" financing has meant taking money from the federal government for the general Presidential election. Senator Obama's new system is public, because "the public" sends him the money.

Here's the translation: In November, Mr. Obama said he would accept public financing for the general campaign if John McCain committed to public funds. Now he doesn't want to be tied down by the spending limits attached to public funds. This is embarrassing. Solution: Call his Internet contributors a "parallel public financing" system.

What he is proposing sounds pretty much like what the system would look like if campaign-finance restrictions didn't exist. But they do exist, thanks to reformers like him. Shortly after the candidate made his remarks, a spokesman hurried to say it "was not a policy statement," but merely a description of the nature of his donor base. Barack Obama raised $40 million in the month of March – twice the $20 million Hillary Clinton's campaign took in. His totals are now more than $230 million.

Good for him. But Mr. Obama is unmistakably talking about abandoning the virtuous world that campaign finance reformers have in mind. The reformers' agenda has always been to limit "the influence of money" in politics, and do so by capping the amount candidates can spend. This naturally appealed to Mr. Obama when he was the underdog. But now that he's top dog, standing on principle isn't as appealing as the prospect of a colossal war chest.

Mr. Obama has also made much of his campaign's pledge not to accept money from political action committees, raising the majority of his funds from small private donations. PACs typically make up less than 1% of overall election donations to Presidential candidates, so that's no sacrifice.

Industry PACs may not give directly to his campaign, but employees of industries may do so, and many of his contributors have come from executives and their spouses. For example, Mr. Obama leads all candidates in donations from the pharmaceutical industry and commercial banks, among other industries. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks fundraising in elections, Mr. Obama has received $528,765 from people in the pharmaceutical industry and $1,380,108 from commercial banks. He comes in second to Mrs. Clinton in donations from lawyers with $13,690,170, just over a million shy of her total.

There is in fact a real parallel financing system already in place and ready to support Mr. Obama. It's called George Soros and so-called 527 groups such as the Democrat-supporting Fund for America or the newly named Progressive Media USA. Progressive Media recently announced plans for a $40 million, four-month campaign against Mr. McCain, and that's only one group in the game.

Mr. Obama once said he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." Mr. McCain has already taken steps toward public financing in the general election. So now Mr. Obama wants to preserve his reputation as a reformer while exploiting his new financial advantage. We are all beginning to learn how expansive the meaning of "change" is.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1207871594...=googlenews_wsj

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I heard something about this on the radio. From what I understood the situation is in fact quite dire on the public funding score. The funding is not secured and it is possible although not necessarily likely that funds could be denied. This would leave a very undemocratic election...and if this were to be happening in another country under scrutiny for election equality, would be in danger of being labeled a 'banana republic' election.

I apologise for lack of detail on this and would love to know more about it but as I said, it was on the radio and I was on my way somewhere.


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I heard something about this on the radio. From what I understood the situation is in fact quite dire on the public funding score. The funding is not secured and it is possible although not necessarily likely that funds could be denied. This would leave a very undemocratic election...and if this were to be happening in another country under scrutiny for election equality, would be in danger of being labeled a 'banana republic' election.

I apologise for lack of detail on this and would love to know more about it but as I said, it was on the radio and I was on my way somewhere.

I heard that too - something about the electoral commission on campaign donations essentially being frozen because of disagreement over some of the delegates. Here's some more info:

Obama And McCain Squabble Over Public Financing

Democrats still haven't picked their presidential nominee. But Barack Obama is already jostling with Republican John McCain over how to finance the fall campaign. McCain intends to take public funds, and he accuses Obama of breaking a promise to do so. But like anything to do with campaign money, that political spat is just part of the story.

The government would give each major party nominee more than 84 Million dollars, provided that he or she doesn't take money from private donors. It's a Watergate-era reform and McCain and Obama are competing to wear the halo of a reformer.

Months ago, they seemed to strike an agreement on public financing. If both were nominated and one said yes to it, so would the other. Obama even answered Yes on a questionnaire that asked if he would use public funds.

Then Obama's fundraising shot into the stratosphere. The higher it goes, the less incentive he has to take public funds.

McCain is making the promise a campaign issue. "I made a promise to the American people that I would," McCain said recently. "And he made a promise. Apparently he may not keep that."

Obama prefers to talk about a different promise -- to change Washington. It's a central theme of his campaign. This week, at a fundraiser in Washington, he said lobbyists with lots of campaign cash shouldn't have so much influence: "I don't love the way they dictate the agenda in Washington D-C -- because I want the American people to dictate that agenda."

Obama said his campaign has created "a parallel public financing system." He's arguing that millions of dollars in small Internet donations are as clean as public funding.

And in practical terms, Obama would be better off turning down the public money. At his current pace, next month he'll have outraised every other presidential candidate in history. Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who's followed the boom in political money. He's at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He says the small-dollar Internet fundraising really has changed a candidate's calculations. And it's not just money.

"What's happened is that it's turned out that there's just way more money out there than really anyone expected ... You know, that's not nearly as time-intensive as having to schmooze with the big-money people."

But McCain doesn't have that base of small donors. This week he held that most traditional of money events -- a reception at the Willard Hotel near the White House. Illinois congressman Ray LaHood said he saw lots of donors who had backed McCain's primary rivals.

"These are folks that missed the train first time thru, last year. But now that they see that he's gonna be the nominee, they want to be a part of the team."

Events like this have boosted McCain's finances since he clinched the nomination. But even now, Obama's outraising him more than two to one.

With public financing in the fall, McCain would get 1 point 4 million dollars per day. That's eight times his daily fundraising average in the race.And since 1976, every Democratic and Republican nominee has opted for public financing.

And normally, it isn't that hard to get the cash. But this year, it may be. A nominee needs certification from the Federal Election Commission. That takes a vote of 4 commissioners. But only 2 commissioners are currently confirmed.

Senators are squabbling over 4 nominees. Fred Wertheimer, a long-time advocate for stronger campaign finance laws, says the stalemate causes all sorts of enforcement problems.

"If another country was going thru a national election and had shut down their agency to oversee the campaign finances of the election, we would call that country a banana republic."

There's a window in May and June when the Senate might confirm new commissioners. If it doesn't, either party's nominee could go to court for the public funds, where a judge might, or might not, agree.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/news/2008/04/obam...ble_over_1.html

Edited by Number 6

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This pretty much shows that Obama is just another politician. McCain has a track record of trying to take the special interests out of campaign finance (McCain/Fiengold). Obama talkes a good game about a level playing field but doesn't want to give up his advantage in money. In the end I think this one goes to McCain.

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This pretty much shows that Obama is just another politician. McCain has a track record of trying to take the special interests out of campaign finance (McCain/Fiengold). Obama talkes a good game about a level playing field but doesn't want to give up his advantage in money. In the end I think this one goes to McCain.

You could look at it another way. Public fianacing is a way for a candidate to be funded that prevents a small group of donors giving large amounts of money to a candidate.

But in Obama's case, much of his donations comes from small donations.

But overall this is not that important of an issue.


keTiiDCjGVo

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Thanks Number 6, that's exactly the story I heard. Interesting is what I think, and more interesting too that Barack is hedging his bets. He's a tricky customer and no mistake.


Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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This pretty much shows that Obama is just another politician. McCain has a track record of trying to take the special interests out of campaign finance (McCain/Fiengold). Obama talkes a good game about a level playing field but doesn't want to give up his advantage in money. In the end I think this one goes to McCain.

You could look at it another way. Public fianacing is a way for a candidate to be funded that prevents a small group of donors giving large amounts of money to a candidate.

But in Obama's case, much of his donations comes from small donations.

But overall this is not that important of an issue.

I pretty much disagreed with McCain/Fiengold but I have to admit that I have changed my mind. The election process seems to have turned into a race to see who can raise the most money. I understand that Obama had gotten most of his donations from the internet. I don't see how that prevents abuse. I would submit that it invites abuse. The limit for personal donations is what, $2500 each? (not sure of that number) On the internet we all know that anyone can impersonate anyone. What is stopping someone from donating the limit 100 times under 100 names? The potential for abuse is greater because of the nature of the internet.

So what are we saying here: McCain's a bit scared of not being able to keep up with the fund raising?

We are saying that both made a promise and Barak is breaking it.

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No, what is being said is that one candidate could have a ludicrous financial advantage - plus what Gary points out too. Financial imbalances do not lead to democratic elections.

Edited by Purple_Hibiscus

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I agree, not important, lets get back to his pastor. Thats working well.


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The election process seems to have turned into a race to see who can raise the most money. I understand that Obama had gotten most of his donations from the internet. I don't see how that prevents abuse. I would submit that it invites abuse. The limit for personal donations is what, $2500 each? (not sure of that number) On the internet we all know that anyone can impersonate anyone. What is stopping someone from donating the limit 100 times under 100 names? The potential for abuse is greater because of the nature of the internet.

I certainly agree with that - this sort of thing needs oversight and regulation.

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This pretty much shows that Obama is just another politician. McCain has a track record of trying to take the special interests out of campaign finance (McCain/Fiengold). Obama talkes a good game about a level playing field but doesn't want to give up his advantage in money. In the end I think this one goes to McCain.

You could look at it another way. Public fianacing is a way for a candidate to be funded that prevents a small group of donors giving large amounts of money to a candidate.

But in Obama's case, much of his donations comes from small donations.

But overall this is not that important of an issue.

I pretty much disagreed with McCain/Fiengold but I have to admit that I have changed my mind. The election process seems to have turned into a race to see who can raise the most money. I understand that Obama had gotten most of his donations from the internet. I don't see how that prevents abuse. I would submit that it invites abuse. The limit for personal donations is what, $2500 each? (not sure of that number) On the internet we all know that anyone can impersonate anyone. What is stopping someone from donating the limit 100 times under 100 names? The potential for abuse is greater because of the nature of the internet.

I don't know what the regulations are, but i would guess that they have to verify the name and address is a real person. If not they have to refuse the donation.

Its not difficult at all to verify the person is who they say they are.

No, what is being said is that one candidate could have a ludicrous financial advantage - plus what Gary points out too. Financial imbalances do not lead to democratic elections.

The question is where the finacial advantage comes from.

If it comes from a small group of wealthy individuals/Pacs or companies, thats not good.

If it comes from a huge group of donations from all kinds of people, is that a bad thing?


keTiiDCjGVo

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I guess the point is - there's no mechanism or means to tell. Has to be some sort of accountability.

There is this: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/index.asp


keTiiDCjGVo

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This pretty much shows that Obama is just another politician. McCain has a track record of trying to take the special interests out of campaign finance (McCain/Fiengold). Obama talkes a good game about a level playing field but doesn't want to give up his advantage in money. In the end I think this one goes to McCain.

You could look at it another way. Public fianacing is a way for a candidate to be funded that prevents a small group of donors giving large amounts of money to a candidate.

But in Obama's case, much of his donations comes from small donations.

But overall this is not that important of an issue.

I pretty much disagreed with McCain/Fiengold but I have to admit that I have changed my mind. The election process seems to have turned into a race to see who can raise the most money. I understand that Obama had gotten most of his donations from the internet. I don't see how that prevents abuse. I would submit that it invites abuse. The limit for personal donations is what, $2500 each? (not sure of that number) On the internet we all know that anyone can impersonate anyone. What is stopping someone from donating the limit 100 times under 100 names? The potential for abuse is greater because of the nature of the internet.

I don't know what the regulations are, but i would guess that they have to verify the name and address is a real person. If not they have to refuse the donation.

Its not difficult at all to verify the person is who they say they are.

Come on Dan. You know better than that. Even a mildly talented internet type can spoof any donation site. It's just too easy. If there is large money and politial influence involved I guarentee you it can and at some point will be done.

No, what is being said is that one candidate could have a ludicrous financial advantage - plus what Gary points out too. Financial imbalances do not lead to democratic elections.

The question is where the finacial advantage comes from.

If it comes from a small group of wealthy individuals/Pacs or companies, thats not good.

If it comes from a huge group of donations from all kinds of people, is that a bad thing?

The trouble is, on the internet the two can be confused without much effort.

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