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Wag the Blog: Your Thoughts on Public Financing

We received more than 60 responses to our question about whether the public financing system for presidential campaigns can or should be revived and how the presence or lack of a viable public financing system will affect future elections in the United States. The conversation continues -- here are just a few of your responses.

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Radio and TV stations should be mandated to donate a certain amount of time to each VIABLE candidate, and newspapers should grant them editorial space. There should also be live online forums -- perhaps where people can ask questions. We should all be allowed to face them personally, not just people from New Hampshire.

In this way, we could see them respond in real time -- not just be deluged and overwhelmed and disgusted by the vicious canned attacks that dominate every cycle.

Posted by drindl

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It's time to institute public campaign financing, stop the begging, and make the voters once again the most important people for someone running for public office.

A candidate for office, upon meeting a qualification standard by gathering signatures on petitions or gaining the nomination of his or her party, would receive campaign funds based on the population of his district, state or in the case of the Presidency the nation. This amount should initially be set at a percentage of the average cost of campaigns for that office (since the cost of fundraising is eliminated) and indexed for inflation.

Posted by rich kolker

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I think a lot of peoples' first instinct is to say that campaign funding should be entirely public. But I disagree.

There's an advantage to private fundraising. It shows that a candidate has some significant amount of support. In the 2004 primary, Howard Dean collected huge amounts of money, mostly in small contributions from individuals. That meant that a large number of people believed in his message and wanted him to succeed. And that early success in fundraising elevated him to the top of the Democratic heap, at least for a while.

Posted by Blarg

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Get real. I'd be as happy as anyone if our system of elections relied on boring, placid, apolitical public funding and was not beholden to PAC's or any of the other myriad methods developed specifically to get around any rule (pick one off this page) that we might hope or wish for. If you look around, however, there is no hue and cry, there is no outrage, there is no momentum for campaign finance reform. Without public resentment fueling such a change, no one in their right mind is going to take a quixotic run to limit the highly fungible definition of free speech that consistently frustrates our best intentions.

Posted by Judge C. Crater

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Although I would like to see some kind of campaign financing reform, I don't think we are going to get it in my lifetime. For several years I have been toying with a if you can't beat them, join them approach. Since you can't stop special interest financing, why not tax it. Impose a sliding scale on contributions. Each candidate would be responsible for paying the treasury an increasing percentage of funds received over a minimum threshold which would enable a bare bones campaign. Similarly, impose a tax on expenditures of the so-called independent groups. At least the tax revenues generated by this proposal will do some good and may deter excessive special interest contributions.

Posted by: DS

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  February 24, 2007; 7:33 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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