Thursday, May 31, 2012

Roemer Out

I suppose I should take note of the demise of Buddy Roemer's third-party campaign, a few months after the demise of his campaign for the Republican nomination. You know, for President of the United States of America. Oh well; it's hard to ridicule anyone for running for president in a cycle that had Prince Herman.

Outside of inspiring my inspired but little-noticed and never-copied classification of Roemer as a Captain Bateson class candidate, Roemer was also notable for his excellent use of twitter, especially during debates he was excluded from.

And he's now going to crusade on the topic of campaign finance. Well, I suppose I should wish him good luck in that, but I'm not a fan. I will say this: it would be nice if someone out there outside of the left wing of the Democratic Party was banging the drums for public financing. Granted, I'm only for partial public financing -- floors, not ceilings -- but it would probably move things forward to have someone new out there pushing it.

By the way, for liberals who support campaign finance, here's one for you. Compare how responsive to moneyed interests the following Democrats were: JFK/LBJ, elected with only private financing and no limits except ban on direct corporate donations and no disclosure; Jimmy Carter. full general election public financing  and partial nomination public funding with private donations limited and disclosed; Bill Clinton, with both nomination and general election partial public financing plus semi-limited and semi-disclosed private financing for both; and Barack Obama, back to full private financing, semi-limited and semi-disclosed. My sense is that you basically get no difference; others may disagree.


  1. The presidency is the wrong place to look for the impact of money on politics. It's a high-visibility race with a ton of outside coverage. Down-ticket stuff as well as primaries, where paid media can matter more, would logically be more impacted by campaign donations.

  2. "On December 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a bill called the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis. Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City."

    Goo-goo, liberals.

    1. Goo-goo yourself. Now you're a libertarian who is in favor of financial regulation? Or you'll just paste any crap in here in order to take a cheap shot at the other side?

    2. purusha,

      The point of the link is that public financing can't align the interests of politicians with voters. Corporations have more direct interest and more knowledge about their fields than voters do, so they know which politicians to pay off to buy protection and rents and will FIND A WAY to make the pay offs. The speaking circuit is one of them that shows that public financing does nothing.

      Finance -- like education and medicine -- is already beyond the key libertarian regulation because it's so closely aligned with gov. Unless finance becomes a real market, gov is the source of regulation.

  3. With campaign finance we have two questions:

    How does the system determine who winds up holding office (how does it influence elections)?

    How does the system influence people who hold (and presumably wish to continue to hold) office? How does it change policy?

    At the presidential level, its not obvious how the campaign finance determined who became president.

    It certainly seems like campaign finance has a big impact on policy. Wealthy people and industries clearly have disproportional influence. But maybe that (vast) influence has been largely unaffected by campaign finance laws.

    Is there any scholarship in this JB? Any evidence that the various campaign finance laws actually reduced the influence of moneyed interests?

    1. I'm not an expert, but...

      My impression is that generally it's been very hard to draw direct causal lines going from campaign money to actions by legislators. Not saying it doesn't happy; just saying that (IIRC) it's hard to show it from the available evidence.

      Given that, it's unlikely that anyone has been able to show an effect from changing campaign finance laws.

      My general feeling is that in a democracy you're not going to eliminate influence for those who are large and important interests within a constituency. What you want to do is to make sure that it's not only the wealthy who are influential.


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