Friday, January 11, 2008

January 10, 2008

     According to data posted on the internet by the Center for Responsive Politics, the various presidential candidates raised about 420 million dollars in the first three quarters of 2007.  More by now, of course, but those numbers aren't available yet.
     Some raised more than others.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the leading Democrats:  she, with over ninety million;  he, with eighty.  Long shot New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has dropped out, raised over eighteen million;  Dennis Kucinich, who hasn't, raised about two.
     Is this fair?  Well, no.  A Clinton starts out with huge advantages--husband an ex-president, all the lists he assembled during his campaigns, and so on.  An Obama has fewer advantages;  a Kucinich, apparently, fewer still.   And so we come back to an old question:  should we switch to public financing? 
     It's available now, of course, but there's a catch.  If you take government money, you have to agree to government spending limits--state by state.  So when Senator Clinton announced early in 2007 that she wasn't going to use public financing, other potential candidates knew that if they did, they were going to be outspent big time.
     How would pubic financing work?  You could do it in several ways--simply give the campaigns money,  mandate free TV time for them, or some combination of those.  What it would do, of course, is lessen the power of the fat cats--the corporate bundlers, the law firms, the lobbyists.  It would mean less influence by various interest groups on the election process and, therefore, more clout for the average voter.
     Do we want this?  Congress doesn't;  public financing bills get proposed from time to time but don't pass.  Is that because the Congressmen are already elected, have lists from their last campaign and that people thinking about running against them now probably don't?  What do you think? 

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