Bill Introduced To End Public Funding Of Political Campaigns

A Republican Congressman has introduced a bill that would end public funding of Presidential campaigns:

The House Rules Committee next week will hold a meeting to consider H.R. 359, which would end taxpayer funding for presidential campaigns and party conventions.

The Committee announced tonight that it would take up this bill on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Republicans estimate it would save $520 million over ten years.

According to information on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the bill would require all presidential candidates to “rely on private donations rather than tax dollars” through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

In addition to eliminating an unnecessary program, this strikes me as the right thing to do simply because there’s something offensive about taxpayer dollars going to political candidates. Additionally, unlike any other political party in America, both the Republican and Democratic parties receive a taxpayer subsidy to cover part of the cost of their quadrennial political conventions. I’m not sure this will go anywhere this year, but its good to see someone putting the issue out there. No tax dollars for politicians? Sounds like a great idea to me.

H/T: United Liberty

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. says:

    It’s always jarring when you come across someone enthusiastically supporting something you are 100% against. I’d like to see an end to private contributions to campaigns… or perhaps some sort of pool system where all campaign contributions are distributed equally to serious candidates.

    It’s a non-starter so I’ve never bothered figuring out details, but it has to be better than the current corruption and influence-peddling that we have that locks out just about anyone but the wealthy and political insiders.

  2. Edward says:

    That anyone can be in favor of this is mind-boggling. It is the private money that has taken the power in this country away from the people and in the hands of corporations and the wealthy. Public financing is a good first step towards shifting the balance back. Anyone who truly cares about the future of this country will want public financing.

  3. Edward

    I don’t want my money going to candidates I don’t support. Therefore I oppose taxpayer funding of political campaigns

  4. Marvin says:

    I think this is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing.

    This would lead to an even more skewed situation where private money is given even more political power.

  5. wr says:

    Why don’t we just eliminate elections and let the head of the US Chamber of Commerce choose all our officials. It would save all that time and money, and it’s clear that libertarians wouldn’t object — as long as they don’t have to pay that extra nickel in taxes, they don’t care that corporations can buy any office they want.

  6. PJ says:

    I don’t think we will see any of the ones calling Doug a leftist commenting on this post. It clearly shows that he’s a front pager at Daily Kos….

    Consider how much time representatives are already spending fundraising… This is a bad idea.

  7. Public financing only exists for Presidential campaigns, and then only in the form of matching funds.

    Also, note that in 2008 Barack Obama opted out of the public financing and that in the past matching funds have gone to such fringe candidates as Lyndon LaRouche

  8. Ben says:

    As someone who tends to lean libertarian on many things, this is one of my few breaks with that philosophy. I personally think this is a terrible idea. As it is, running for a statewide or national office is restricted only to multi-millionaires, and removing public funding for campaigns simply further entrenches that. I don’t mind removing funding for conventions, however. I can’t even imagine why we’re funding conventions in the first place. But public funding of campaigns is the only possible way I can see of allowing anyone other than top 0.1% of the country to run for any major office.

  9. Richard says:

    I disagree with your conclusions as well.

    The main reason I take object with any private funding of political campaigns is that it allows influence to be peddled to the highest bidder. That means corporations and wealthy donors with the big money will essentially control legislation. We have seen more of this after Citizens United with foreign money, corporate money, etc. flowing into politics.

    The system I would prefer is that every candidate for every office from every party that has received > 5% of the vote in the last presidential election should receive *equal* public funding and be required to and be limited to those funds (no outside financing at all). This will force all candidates to rely on selling ideas to the public rather than merely buying them out.

  10. Richard says:

    Doug, I don’t mind money going equally to all major parties because because party positions change and individual nominees from either party may have (at any particular time) a better idea (from my perspective) than the opposition on an issue.

    I guess I’m nonpartisan enough to allow for a wide spectrum of opinions and spirited debate (with hopefully more parties). Whether we give money to communist parties, aryan nationalists, or green peaceniks is of no concern to me. What matters is that they all have an equal opportunity to sell their perspectives. A parliamentary system with as many parties as Israel’s Knesset is my ideal.

  11. Even I accepted the arguments about public funding for candidates I can see no rational justification for taxpayer dollars being used to finance the party conventions

  12. john personna says:

    I don’t remember all the details, but I think public funding was introduced as various contribution limits were put in place. Together they were to level the playing field.

    In our modern era we have super non-public funding, and now no limit on corporate funding.

    The horse has left the barn. Go back to transparency as the answer. Let anyone contribute, but require an audit trail back to an individual or corporation. And the sure, drop public funding.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Doug, if public financing offends you so much, do you have an alternative to our present system, where politicians seem to sell themselves as whores to the highest bidders?

  14. Richard says:

    The nice thing about forcing parties to take public funding and not allow outside money is that if they waste it on luxurious conventions, it’s less for them to spend on GOTV or advertising. It’s their loss!

    Overall I think it’ll bring down the cost of elections substantially.

  15. Jack says:

    Does anyone believe that public funding of presidential campaigns ever stopped the private money from influence? Who is that stupid? If all campaign money were public, private money would still have more influence; supreme court rule or not!!!!!