Thursday, June 19, 2008

Publically Funded Elections: Good or Bad?

Presumptive Democratic Nominee Barack Obama announced today over a video message on his website that he would not participate in the “broken” public financing system during his bid for the White House, making him the first major party candidate to decline public financing since the system was established in 1976. Had he accepted, the US Treasury would have allocated $84.1 million to Mr. Obama, but, in exchange, would have forbid him from accepting private donations and spending more than that $84.1 million. John McCain is a longtime supporter of the public funding of elections and is expected to accept the government funds.

Mr. Obama had previously stated an interest in pursuing “an agreement with the Republican nominee” to establish a reasonable procedure for a publically-financed election. His latest decision to privately fund his campaign, however, has been seen by John McCain as just “one of a number of reversals” by the Democratic Senator. Obama defend his choice by asserting that the McCain campaign were “masters of gaming” the public financing system due to the Republican Party’s unofficial relationships with the special interest “527” groups, who put forward some of the elections dirtiest smear campaigns without officially affiliating themselves with a candidate.

It is widely believed that Senator Obama would be able to out raise McCain as well as the $84.1 million cap he would be issued if his campaign was publically financed. Obama was able to win the Democratic primary through a grass roots movement based around donations of $100 or less.