Friday, January 28, 2011

House Votes to End Taxpayer Funding of U.S. Presidential Elections

House lawmakers on January 26 approved a measure to end the post-Watergate-era option of allowing taxpayers to check a box on their federal tax returns to designate $3 of their tax liability to finance presidential campaigns. Introduced by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the bill (HR 359) would amend the tax code to prohibit taxpayers from financing the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account. Cole said that only 7 percent of American's support the program, which he called a frivolous waste of federal spending used to pay for political party conventions and to prop up the candidacies of long-shot presidential hopefuls.

The measure, which would reduce federal spending by $617 million over 10 years, passed the House by a vote of 239-to-160. The Obama administration strongly opposes the legislation. In a statement of administration policy, the White House said that HR 359 would expand the power of corporations and special interests and force many candidates into an endless cycle of fund-raising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues. "It is imperative to strengthen the presidential election finance system established in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, not eliminate it," said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. "Elimination simply means even more unfettered spending on our elections by large corporations and wealthy individuals."

By Stephen K. Cooper, CCH News Staff

Legislation to Reduce Federal Spending and the Deficit by Terminating Taxpayer Financing of Presidential Election Campaigns and Party Conventions, HR 359

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