GIVING THE PUBLIC WHAT IT WANTS NEEDS
George Will notes the unpopularity of the presidential campaign fund and the hypocrisy of some Republicans who want to strengthen it:
From 1976 to 1993 a taxpayer using the checkoff dedicated $1 of his or her tax liability. But few taxpayers chose to participate. In 1976, only 27.5 percent of taxpayers did. Participation peaked in 1980 at 28.7 percent. By 1993 the rate was down to 14.5 percent, so Congress raised the checkoff to $3. This enabled fewer people to divert more money from the reservoir of revenues paid by all taxpayers.
Last year the participation rate was a paltry 11.25 percent. So now in Congress there is a move afoot to increase the checkoff again, perhaps to $10, so even fewer taxpayers can force all other taxpayers to contribute even more money for a purpose that 88.75 percent of taxpayers have made quite clear that they dislike.
some Republicans, who would not recognize a principle if it were presented to them on a silver salver, have suddenly been seized by the thought that the presidential checkoff system should be strengthened. These Republicans, some of whom cannot see to next Thursday, think they can foresee the outcome of the 2004 election and the contours of the 2008 election. And they think they now see partisan advantage in public funding of presidential campaigns.
They think they know that George W. Bush will be re-elected, and that Hillary Clinton, with her star power and prodigious fund-raising abilities, will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. They think she might be able to raise upwards of $200 millionÃ¢€”which is to say, perhaps as much as Bush will raise for the 2004 election. Horrors!
It is indeed amazing that most politicians, of whichever party, jettison their philosophy when it becomes inconvenient. The Republicans who took over Congress in the 1994 election promising to be fairer than the Democrats, limit their own terms, give more power to the minority party, not pass unfunded mandates on to the states, etc., etc. are now doing just the opposite now that doing so favors them.
This doesn’t surprise me in the least, but it’s somehow discouraging nonetheless.