Taxpayer financing for congressional campaigns … not even close to ‘now’

We have to admit that we laughed out loud here at CCP when we saw that what amounts to the entirety of the campaign finance “reform” movement issued twenty-one press releases earlier this week in order to thank a few more than a couple dozen U.S. Representatives and a single U.S. Senator for their co-sponsorship of proposed legislation that would use taxpayer money to finance congressional campaigns.

Indeed, we were laughing for a couple reasons.

First, although the “reformers” make it their constant mission to look for and count up any and all money used for political speech, they actually don’t seem to be very good at counting.  This is because, according to the Library of Congress, there are actually thirty-five House co-sponsors and three Senate co-sponsors of the proposed taxpayer financing legislation — not the twenty-six Representatives and one Senator thanked by the Fair Elections Now Coalition.

In other words, in thanking the congressional members who are co-sponsoring what the “reformers” consider “critical legislation,” the “reformers” forgot to thank nine U.S. Representatives and two U.S. Senators.  Now that has to be a political faux pas.

But what was even more hilarious is the over-the-top rhetoric used by the “reformers” in thanking these couple dozen congressional co-sponsors.  The subheadline of the press releases touted “[m]omentum [is] building for comprehensive [taxpayer financing] legislation in Congress.”


Even using the apparently correct and certainly more numerous co-sponsorship lists from the Library of Congress, less than 10% of the House of Representatives is sponsoring or co-sponsoring the proposed legislation (36 of 435), and only 4% of the Senate is doing the same (4 of 100).  Moreover, as we have pointed out before, the proposed legislation has all but lost any bi-partisan veneer it ever had since Senator Arlen Specter switched political parties — meaning there are no Republican co-sponsors in the Senate and only two in the House.

Quite frankly, if “momentum” really was “building” — as the “reformers” want everyone to believe — not only would there be a lot longer list of co-sponsors, but there also would be at least a few “R”s appearing on those co-sponsorship lists.

Nevertheless, we’re happy to let the “reformers” continue living in their fantasyland.  After all, given the current state of the American economy, the gigantic explosion in government spending, and skeptical public attitudes about using taxpayer money to bailout anyone (much less politicians), the “reformers” have to hope for fantasy because they can’t face reality.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.