House to vote on repeal of presidential tax financing

The Center for Competitive Politics issued a press release and a letter to congressional leaders about today’s vote on repealing the presidential tax financing system:

“Presidential tax financing is an politico-religious construct of the Washington elite with no demonstrated benefits,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “In an era of austerity, this pet ideological project of self-anointed reformers needs to hit the chopping block.”

FEC Commissioner Don McGahn published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner urging abolishing the antiquated program:

The presidential public financing system is a fossil of the 1970s, and the sort of cumbersome regime that only an inside-the-beltway policy wonk could love. For example, to qualify for primary funding, you must raise more than $5,000 in 20 states (but only the first $250 per individual contributor counts).

Back in the 1970s, this may have signaled a broad base of presidential-level support; but today even some mayoral candidates do that in a day, probably even before lunch. Once deemed “eligible” by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), you must agree to both national and separate state-by-state spending limits. You also must agree to a “voluntary” audit by the FEC (past audits have included fascinating topics such as whether running television ads in Boston, Massachusetts, counts against New Hampshire spending limits).

Last night, the House Rules Committee advanced the measure to the floor and six amendments from the minority party have been ruled in order, The Hill reported:

1) Ensure that all money saved (estimates are $617 million over ten years) goes to reducing the deficit, from Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

2) After funding is terminated, use any unused money to pay for security at Presidential nominating conventions, from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

3) Alter the bill so that funding for presidential campaigns is maintained, also from Rep. Castor.

4) Prohibit entities that receive federal funds from advocating the election or defeat of a presidential candidate, from Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).

5) Alter the bill so taxpayers can still voluntarily finance presidential campaigns through additional donations made when taxes are filed, from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

6) A similar amendment from Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) that would allow voluntary taxpayer contributions.

Check C-SPAN’s live coverage for updates.

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