Welfare for politicians is libertarian?

Rep. John Larson, the Democratic caucus chair in the House, recently told National Journal that H.R. 1826, the Fair Elections Now Act, has a “very libertarian streak to it.”

National Journal: Are there other strongholds of potential Republican support for this?

Larson: It’s the kind of thing that perhaps would appeal to… House member Ron Paul [R-Texas]*. It’s got a very libertarian streak to it.

Umm… Does Larson know what libertarians stand for — at all? The American Heritage Dictionary defines a “libertarian” as “[o]ne who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” [emphasis added]

FENA, a bill to establish taxpayer financed campaigns at the congressional level, would create a new government program that could spend billions (certainly hundreds of millions) of taxpayer dollars per campaign cycle on bumper stickers and attack ads for candidates.

The large “L” libertarians, also known as the Libertarian Party, are on record against taxpayer funded campaigns:  “We’re against taxpayer funded campaigns,” Wes Benedict, a spokesman for the Libertarian Party, told CCP. Point 3.6 of the party’s platform reads, “We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns.” Bobb Barr, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 2008, was not among the nine candidates scrounging for federal subsidies.

Larson may also recall that John Samples, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government and author of “The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reformtestified against FENA at a July hearing before the House Administration Committee (along with CCP’s Brad Smith). Cato is, of course, the libertarian think tank of record.

* P.S. In case you were wondering, a spokesperson for Rep. Paul tells CCP he does not support H.R. 1826 or taxpayer funded campaigns in general.

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