House passes repeal of public financing for presidential campaigns

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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The House passed a bill Wednesday that would remove public funding for presidential campaigns by a vote of 239 to 160. Ten democrats voted for the bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would save the government $617 million over ten years.

Currently, taxpayers can choose to allocate $3 of their tax payment to the public funding program. Participation has been dramatically declining over the years, from approximately 30 percent in 1980 and only around 7 percent participation in 2009.

In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama became the first candidate to decline public financing for a general election campaign, opting instead to benefit from unrestricted private donations. Obama said at the time that public financing allowed “special interests [to] drown out the voices of the American people” and that the move was to “declare our independence from a broken system.”

John McCain’s campagin accepted $84 million in public funding.

Despite Obama’s statement in 2008, the Office of Management and Budget says removing public financing would “expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation’s elections.”

Before the bill’s passage, an amendment that would force advocacy organizations to disclose their donors was defeated.