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U.S. House Passes Bill to Eliminate Public Funding for Presidential Conventions

On December 11, the U.S. House passed HR 2019, which repeals public funding for presidential conventions. The vote was 295-103. The bill is now in the Senate.

The only party, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, that ever received public funding for its presidential conventions was the Reform Party in 2000. The funding is limited to parties that polled at least 5% of the vote in the previous presidential election.

11 Responses

  1. Baronscarpia

    A good article above that Richard might have posted…

    http://blogs.reuters.com/alison-frankel/2013/12/16/why-shield-corporations-from-disclosing-political-spending/

    I have a thought about this post. Corporate “persons” spend millions of dollars to have their names applied to new sports stadia. Why not have a few corporate “persons” or foot the bills for the conventions? Imagine the bidding wars to exercise their free speech?

    “The Las Vegas Sands Corporation/Koch Industries Republican Convention” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

    I’m sure there MUST be a corporation out there that would fund the Green Party’s convention. Maybe Planned Parenthood? They could at least afford to rent a big tent, I’d think.

    • Joshua H.

      The Green Party usually prefers to be fiercely independent of corporations. It’s more likely that they’d do a fundraiser that would garner support from members and people sympathetic towards its beliefs and third parties in general. As a Green myself, that’s what I think we’d probably end up doing, if we’re not already.

  2. You have passionate interest, yet for all your attention to this issue, you have never solved the problem that big newspapers are corporations and you don’t set out any justification for restricting what they can say about candidates.

    • Baronscarpia

      Richard -

      First, let me observe that I have at at least this much effect on your stated opinions on this subject…you refer here to “big newspapers” instead of the NY Times in your parry. I’ve always felt that you did so to compartmentalize my arguments, unfairly so, as the ravings of the lunatic liberal fringe. And you left out unions in this argument. Here as well, I’ve always felt that you included unions in your responses to paint me as a liberal. In fact, I am a liberal (arguably even raving) but as you probably recall from a previous exchange of emails, I argue that unions should also be prohibited from making financial contributions direct or indirect to political campaigns.

      As to newspapers, the distinction is so clear I’m surprised you can’t see it. The press was recognized by th FF’s as a critical component of the exchange of ideas in a democratic society. Editorials (and letters to the editor, op ed pieces like the Federalist papers, etc.) were all viewed as part and parcel of the means by which the people could keep their government in check and responsive to their needs. So, the press was specifically included in the first amendment. The corporations who own and run them were not.

      If the New York Times, or the Washington Times publishes an editorial endorsing or opposing a particular candidacy, readers will know who or what entity has produced that opinion and, presumably, weigh it against opposing opinions to make a final personal judgement. That is part of the democratic process that the FF’s envisioned and endeavors to protect. So you tell me…when a corporation, or a wealthy individual, or a union, makes an enormous financial commitment to a candidacy…how does their interest make it into public view to be considered and weighed against others? How, exactly, do Super PACs, which you evidently support, serve the needs of the public, and what terrible void, which evidently existed for over two centuries, do they now fill?

      I’ll go further on the matter of newspapers and other media. Many argue, justifiably so in my view, that “the press” have recently failed in their responsibility to the public by choosing not to pursue the “facts” presented by our leaders to support a variety of decisions. The Iraq mess comes immediately to mind, but there have been many others. I’d suggest to you it may be possible that since the corporations which run the newspapers and other media have been given the “right” to express their “political views” by making financial commitments which do not appear in full view on the editorial pages or in front of a camera or behind a microphone, it may be the “right” to “free speech” in the form of US dollars which may be weakening the impact of the press in keeping government responsive to us. They may choose not to pursue the facts of a political issue because their financial objectives take precedence to being responsive to the needs of a democratic people.

      Snd speaking of responsiveness, what about the article? You and others seem to equate corporate entities with human individuals in the sense that each they have the right to expressing a political point of view as a part of a personal philosophy. As you read this diatribe, you can ascribe my point of view and my philosophy to me, individually. But most large corporations are owned by many, many people. Tell me, by what process do corporations ascertain that their political expenditures represent the political views of the people who own them? I can tell you as a past employee of a major US corporation…when my boss not too delicately suggested that my financial support of their PAC would be noticed, as would the lack thereof, I wasn’t asked for my political views…just my money. I doubt that the CEO and Board of Directors of that company gave a shit what their shareholders’ political views were, either.

      And those owners…why can’t they express their political views by making their own independent contributions? What need is there that is fulfilled by Super PACS? The answer is quite simple, really. The “need” is that of the rich and powerful to overwhelm, by the force of their wealth, the political views of people like you and me. They want to buy their government.

      Jesus, Richard, dO you have ANY problem with that? Do we, collectively, have ANY right to determine how we finance our campaigns? I say we do. In fact, we limit the contributions individuals can make to campaigns. So why are Super PACs sacrosanct?

      Finally…you do understand, do you not, that it is absolutely true, despite the protests of earnest people like Joshua H. above, that without radical campaign finance reform, the likelihood of any third party succeeding to the point that they will have a significant impact on government at the state and federal level is…precisely…zero? This is why your position on the matter of corporate “political speech” positively mystifies me. I understand Jim Riley’s position, because he lives on an end of the political spectrum that relies more on the support of empowered wealth.

      But you? I don’t get it, Richard. I just don’t get it,

  3. Demo Rep

    What part of the nearly dead 1787 USA Const allows the minority rule gerrymander Congress to pay for ANY part of the conventions of ANY robot party hack party ???

    Abolish the timebomb Electoral College.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  4. David

    The money just got moved to other area’s. If those in Congress were really concerned about reducing spending, they would have simply eliminated this money and not just shift it around.

  5. Richard Winger

    Baron, scholars has established that the word “press” in 1789 meant anyone with the capacity and willingness to print up leaflets and distribute them. The idea that a big newspaper is “press”, but you and I or any bloggers aren’t press, has been rebutted.

    The ACLU is a corporation. The Libertarian National committee is a corporation. MALDEF, NAACP, are all corporations. Groups have collective opinions.

    The book I reviewed in the Dec 1 2013 BAN, “The Righteous Mind” makes a very strong experimental case that society is utterly dependent on groups. Groups are what civilize people into caring about someone other than themselves. Individuals banding together into groups is not only highly desirable, but absolutely necessary to civilization.

    Minor parties are already having an impact in the U.S., and have in the past, notwithstanding the injustices and inequalities that exist in this country.

  6. Baronscarpia

    Richard -

    I have no disagreement with your first paragraph.

    Moving to the rest, is it your contention that for-profit corporations which donate to PACS are expressing the collective “opinions” of their shareholders by doing so? That’s odd, because I’m quite sure I’ve never been asked about any of my political views when I’ve acquired stock in any company, nor have I ever been asked whether I support any of the contributions those companies may have made to Super PACs. So how does this mysterious process of determining the collective opinions of shareholders work?

    I feel safe in asserting that for-profit corporations are formed with the objective of…well, making a profit…not “caring about someone other than themselves.” Equating the NAACP and Mobil Oil, for instance, as having even vaguely similar social purpose is ludicrous. However it’s the kind of argument that empowered wealth will welcome as they seek to aggregate even more political power by virtue of the size of the checks they can write.

    Your tacit defense of the Citizens United case is, in my view, antithetical to the specific political objectives you seem to support in this space.

  7. Richard Winger

    Thinking about having different rules for for-profit corporations, and other types of corporations, is interesting. But we still have the problem that big newspapers try to make a profit, so even if there were different rules for non-profit corporations, we have the dilemma of newspapers.

    Citizens United, the corporation that brought the famous lawsuit Citizens United v FEC, was not a for-profit corporation.

    Big newspapers don’t ask their shareholders to vote on what editorial stand the newspaper should take. No one seems upset by that.

  8. Baronscarpia

    I presume you are opposed to setting arbitrary limits to the amounts individual human beings can contribute directly to campaigns, that being an obvious infringement of our right to free speech?

    And what about the military? The military is a group that’s formed with the objective of caring for others. Should the military (which is nonprofit, BTW) be allowed to express its collective political will as well?

    I’ll ask you again…and please be specific in your answer…what great collective social need has been unserved in the two centuries this country did not have Super PACs to which corporations could contribute anonymously and in unlimited amounts?

    Potter Stewart had the solution to your false conundrum, Richard.

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