Thursday, April 05, 2007

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Running for dollars

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Running for dollars
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: April 5, 2007

At least one of the U.S. presidential candidates making the first feverish dash of the 2008 fund-raising derby felt obliged to describe the tastelessness of the race. "I'm raising obscene amounts of money," said Senator Barack Obama, hardly pausing on his way to piling up a first-round total of $25 million.

This is already a record-breaking campaign for the sheer volume of money it is generating. It also is setting a new low with a ludicrously premature handicapping of the race based on the ability to raise cash.

It is 19 months before the election but the political industry is spinning the money before it is spent, ordaining mega-fund-raising as the sine qua non of a credible candidacy.

Dispatches heralded "the winners of the first presidential fund-raising race," pronouncing one $20 million raiser (Mitt Romney) as a "rising force," while discounting a more familiar aspirant (Senator John McCain) as "anemic" for showing at a mere $12.5 million.

Successive Congresses have failed to update the dollar limitations of the public financing law, inviting private donors to fully regain the upper hand in this presidential sweepstakes.

Senator Hillary Clinton, hailed as a Democratic champ with an opening $26 million kitty, did make an "if elected" promise to seek repair of the public financing system. Why not start now by signing on as a co-sponsor of the proposal to upgrade the limits in time for the 2012 election?

And why shouldn't all the candidates join Obama and McCain in pledging to embrace public finance limits in next year's general election, providing both final candidates agree? That would at least suggest a heartbeat still exists for public financing among the money political class.


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