NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 10, 2007

Supporters of campaign finance and speech regulation, in the name of "reform," want to expand government subsidized campaigns.  Behind the rhetoric of "clean" elections is a system that suppresses political speech by ordinary citizens, decreases confidence in government and produces none of what it promises, says Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics.

Consider audits of Maine and Arizona under the McCain-Feingold Act, the last major campaign finance law, says Smith:

  • Tax funding of campaigns is supposed to reduce special-interest influence; but since Maine's program began, the number of lobbyists in the state has increased dramatically.
  • In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano relied heavily on labor unions to do the work needed for her to receive the government subsidy.
  • Additionally, most taxpayer-financing schemes only further entrench the status quo and empower political insiders by penalizing independent citizen speech.

And, as usual, there is waste:

  • A candidate for governor in Maine used taxpayer dollars to pay her husband nearly $100,000 in consulting fees.
  • In Arizona, public money was used to "campaign" in nightclubs and to buy a frozen drink maker.

Overall, taxpayer financing of campaigns takes your money and gives it to someone else so that person can run against the things in which you believe, says Smith.  Such a welfare system for politicians will not cure our system.  Real reform will occur only after citizens are freed of government restraints on their political speech.  Call it "the First Amendment solution."

Source: Bradley A. Smith, "Opposing view: No welfare for politicians," USA Today, December 10, 2007.


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