Last week on "Blumner Explains," she told you what was wrong with the GOP view of the financial crisis. And this week she'll tell you the solution to the huge problem of rich people spending their own money to finance their political campaigns:
(W)e have a hamstrung candidate who has to continuously raise money in small amounts challenged by one who simply digs in his own pocket. Not fair, right? What to do? The answer is public financing.Dang. That was easy. Pretty much like figuring out your name, your favorite color or identifying the fact that your quest is for the Holy Grail.
But why isn't it fair for Rick Scott to dig into his own pocket for campaign finances? Because he has more money than McCollum? Barack Obama had a ton more money than John McCain during the last presidential election and I don't recall Blumner whining about it. Maybe it's fair to have more campaign money than the other guy for reasons other than personal wealth. But Blumner never really explains that, so I guess we'll have to leave it hanging.
If the issue is fairness, then how many other things should we change about elections? Rigid controls on campaign promises? I mean, is it fair to promise things like tax cuts or other popular goodies? Is it fair to strongly imply (if not promise) that one will not raise taxes on certain folks and then turn around and raise taxes on those folks?
Is it fair to have better name recognition than an opponent? Or more experience in public office, such as having been elected dogcatcher? Is it fair being smarter than one's opponent? Or having better administrative skills? Or having a better speaking style?
Perhaps what we really need is the Harrison Bergeron Campaign Reform Act of 2010, not some paltry public financing scheme.
Half of Blumner's gripe is aimed at the recent Supreme Court decision that jeopardized some campaign finance laws. The majority in the 5-4 decision reasoned, in a nutshell, that the government needed a compelling case to limit spending since spending constitutes a type of political speech.
I don't think the First Amendment is injured under the public financing model. The dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens in Davis explains why. He wrote the millionaire's amendment "quiets no speech at all" and simply assists an opponent "in his attempts to make his voice heard" — an "amplification," Stevens said, that "in no way mutes the voice of the millionaire, who remains able to speak as loud and as long as he likes."The Davis decision, for what it's worth, was not a public financing model. The summary of the case makes that clear:
The self-financing candidate remains subject to the normal limitations, but his opponent, the “non-self financing” candidate, may receive individual contributions at treble the normal limit from individuals who have reached the normal limit on aggregate contributions, and may accept coordinated party expenditures without limit.As for the First Amendment argument, Blumner initially argued that it was not "fair" for Scott to spend more than McCollum. Fair like this, apparently:
If Davis wasn't correct, then in what respect would public financing improve the fairness of election in Blumner's eyes?(Davis contended the "Millionaires amendment") unconstitutionally burdens his exercise of his First Amendment right to make unlimited expenditures of his personal funds because making expenditures that create the imbalance has the effect of enabling his opponent to raise more money and to use that money to finance speech that counteracts and thus diminishes the effectiveness of Davis’ own speech.
Blumner's argument rests on an attitude dismissive of the voters' ability to correctly choose their preferred candidate without the help of the omnibenevolent government.
I'm glad Rick Scott had a chance to push his candidacy for Florida governor. I found quite a bit to like about his policy positions. Plus he physically resembled Max Headroom compared to Bill McCollum's passing resemblance to Howdy Doody. Advantage Scott on that one. However, Scott carries a large burden of negatives into the governor's race. Though I think Scott is more conservative, I'll be voting for Bill McCollum in the belief that he will fare better against his Democratic opponent.
The reason, by the way, for the influx of moneyed candidates is obvious: Open seats, weak competition and a contentious political atmosphere will collectively make up a strong draw for candidates more blessed with money than either party support or name recognition.