As readers may recall, Senator Barack Obama is leading a pack of Democrats who oppose voting on confirmation of all of President Bush's four nominees to the Federal Election Commission at the same time. National media such as The Los Angeles Times have urged Obama to back down and support Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's plan for an up-or-down vote on all four nominees (two Democrat, two Republican) so that we can have a fully functioning FEC. But Obama continues to hamstring the process.
Why is Obama such a roadblock? Here is one answer: to prevent his opponent John Edwards from obtaining federal matching funds.
According to Bloomberg,
the Federal Election Commission doesn't have enough members to oversee what is expected to be the most expensive election in U.S. history. Down to just two of its six commissioners, the FEC can't assemble the quorum of four votes required to approve federal campaign funds, enact regulations, undertake fraud investigations or provide legal advice to candidates.
As a result, Bloomberg reports, "John Edwards, who is relying on federal money to help fund his presidential campaign, may not get any more."
Poor Edwards may have to put his own money where his mouth is. Not that this would be a bad outcome if the federal campaign finance laws did not provide otherwise. It is offensive that taxpayer money is used to subsidize the speech of presidential candidates. It is a classic case of no good deed going unpunished to have to earn money to pay taxes that, in turn, finance multi-millionaire Edwards' campaign for big government that will raise our taxes even more.
Congress should change the law so that federal funds are no longer used to finance presidential campaigns. Simply put, if a candidate cannot raise enough money to pay for his or her campaign expenses, then that candidate lacks the necessary support from the electorate and should not be elected president. Senator Hillary Clinton and Obama, for example, are not likely to seek federal matching funds (and the restrictions that go along with them) -- a fact that demonstrates that those two are the most viable candidates for president on the Democratic side.
But the problem of taxpayer subsidies for presidential campaigns cannot be fixed for this election cycle, and Edwards is legally entitled to the matching funds. It is a horrible conflict of interest for Obama to engage in legislative maneuvering that prevents his rival from obtaining federal matching funds that, under the law, are rightfully his to use in the campaign. Obama and his Democratic supporters in the Senate should put an end to their antics and vote for McConnell's plan so that the FEC can get back to work and -- as much as it pains me to write this -- Edwards can get his money.
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