Saturday, June 9, 2012

Elsewhere: Swing States, Convention Funding, Taxes

I have a WaPo piece this weekend in their "5 Myths" series about swing states. There are myths.

At Plum Line yesterday, I talked about the apparent Democratic disharmony over the Bush-era tax cuts.

And at PP, I wrote in favor, more or less, of Tom Coburn's initiative to end public financing for the party conventions. I went into it thinking that I'd just propose a trade of convention funding for partial public financing of House elections (and wound up proposing a wholesale trade -- take out the entire, out-of-date presidential funding regime and replace it with partial public funding of House races). But while I would like to see that, the truth is that the more I think about it, the less I can think of any reason to justify public funding of the conventions. That wouldn't have been true in, say, the 1950s, but now? I just don't see the case for it.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Jonathan, at The Plum Line, on the Democrats and Taxes. They seem to be pushing once again to be more of an echo than a choice relative to the GOP. Let me add that here the president, in my view, has no defense. Its bad enough that he's let the $250K promise of four years ago hem him in up until now. But giving away more leverage to the GOP? I hope that the next administration is forced to see the Bush tax cuts expire for good.

  2. "Any candidate who wins the popular vote by at least three percentage points is certain to win the electoral college, and any candidate who wins the popular vote by as much as a full percentage point is overwhelmingly likely to win the electoral college."

    Am I missing something here?

    1. Okay, I get it now. "Overwhelmingly likely" is less than "certain." The "overwhelmingly" threw me off.

    2. Yes, that's what I mean -- but I think it's my fault for poor writing.

  3. One argument would be if the people don't fund conventions, they will be totally dominated by rapacious special interests.

    I don't buy the argument, mind you, but it is an argument.

    1. But why do we care about the conventions in particular being dominated by special interests, and not the rest of the campaign?

      In the old days, it made sense to think of the two separately, but it really doesn't now.

  4. Can we justify even partial public funding of campaigns as they are now run? With billions spent (and in many cases wasted) propagating mostly misinformation and misdirection through non-stop repetition over extremely expensive media? Public financing of campaigns is mostly payment for purchased media time -- a boondoogle for the media industry, and, of course, media's corporate owners.

    I know this is likely constitutionally unfeasible, but, unless we can ban media from demanding payment FOR political speech and devote public funds to payment of the cost of on the ground face to face with voters politicking; get out the vote, town hall meetings, public debates, transportation costs, etc., which would lead to much less media advertising and much more grass roots effort, the escalating costs, and control of the political debate and message by very limited monied forces, will never change.

    In my dream world, media outlets would have to identify themselves as sponsors of any political advertising they chose to run, and, at the same time, be enjoined from charging taxpayers, parties, candidates or other private interests for any political advertising they chose to run. The upshot would be very little political advertising.

    The notion that more money can guarantee more access to media for more viewpoints is a false one. It only guarantees a bigger payday for media interests. The media is in charge of the show and they ultimately control any message in the media (they can reject any ad, for any reason, they choose -- on the grounds of "controversy" "poor taste" whatever -- and they do -- they also can, and do, choose to run any lies, misrepresentations, etc., they choose, without any consequence to themselves) as well as in charge of how much promoting any political viewpoint will cost others. They control the debate in free, editorial political and news programming, and they control it in paid advertising. More public financing of political advertising won't, can't, change that.


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