Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to Public Financing

More and more it appears that, if nominated, Barack Obama will not accept public financing in a general election.

With all the "Will he? Won't he?" ponderings about whether Barack Obama will accept public financing, check out this comment from the senator last night at a Washington fundraiser:

"We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally reserved for the wealthy and the powerful," Obama said, reports NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan.

John McCain's team has made an issue of Obama's suggestion that he'd consider public financing, in large measure, of course, because McCain hasn't shown nearly the fundraising prowess. It's a fair plea, however. A person can't change the influence of money on politics without opting out of the broken system. But Obama's comment signals with some finality, finally, his intention to bypass the system.

Frankly, Obama is not taking money from PACs and Washington lobbyists, and his camp can show that Obama's effort has largely been floated by small-dollar contributions. What would he have to prove by signing up for public financing?

John McCain and his surrogates are going to make a lot of hay about this -- they have to because there's no way that the McCain campaign would be able to compete dollar for dollar with the massive grassroots fundraising organization that is the Obama campaign -- but McCain has little credibility here. Remember, there remains an outstanding FEC complaint against McCain alleging that he is in violation on campaign finance law, specifically by blowing past the mandatory spending cap that comes along with acceptance of public financing. In this case, McCain opted in to the public finance program for the primaries, enjoyed benefits from it (partially conditioning a loan on American taxpayer dollars and gaining expensive ballot access from his certification in the program), only to unilaterally (and not clearly legally) pull out of the program without the acceptance of the Federal Election Commission.

And Jennifer Skalka over at The Hotline, who wrote the quoted post above, makes the fine point that Obama really is adhering to the spirit of campaign finance reform by refusing PAC and federal lobbyist donations. This pledge is made all the more important by the fact that the McCain campaign is chockfull of federal lobbyists, some of whom continued to lobby even from the so-called "Straight Talk Express."

Finally, going beyond the optics and ethics of a move towards grassroots rather than public financing for a general election, it's fairly clear that by opening up his campaign to contributions from the American people, Obama would greatly enhance his ability to win in November. Note that Obama is raising significantly more money that McCain in hard dollars -- roughly $130 million to less than $40 million in the first quarter of 2008, for instance. Note also that while much if not most of Obama's haul is coming from relatively small dollar donors, a relatively small portion of McCain's take (just $4 million of $15 million) comes from small dollar donors. And while the candidate who raises and spends the most money doesn't always win, recent elections have shown it generally to be the case that the bigger spender does tend to win.

Tags: Barack Obama, campaign finance reform, Online Fundraising, public financing (all tags)

Comments

83 Comments

Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Doing what is expedient rrathe rthan what is right is never good policy.

This wil backfire on Obama.

I believe in public financing. Obama has thrown the concept under the bus.  It's dead.

Not. very. progressive.  But the ends of electing Obama justify almost any means, I suppose.  

The so-called Progressive blogosphere will be rationalizing this.  

by TomP 2008-04-09 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Hyperbole much?  He sends back checks from lobbyists and he doesn't accept PAC money.  The average donation is something like 93$.  He is public financing if the public actually tried to finance.

Add to that the fact that McCain flagrantly broke the campaign finance rules and you would have to be daft in the head to think the nominee should should go along with it.

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Obama has a "stealthy" K-Street Project, according to The Hill,
3/28/08.

He's fundamentally "laundering" lobbyist contributions.

Just sayin'.

by bird52 2008-04-10 01:14AM | 0 recs
Don't be silly.

McCain can't attack him on this because he's in violation.

Obama is all about public financing as a concept, because he doesn't think that candidates should have to worry about money while trying to argue their cases to the American people.  The fact that it's necessary now, and he's good at it, doesn't mean he'll abandon the concept in the future.

For the same reason we can't get rid of caucuses or superdelegates until after the election cycle, Obama should be okay fundraising as he has.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:17AM | 0 recs
Legally McCain Is Way Out Of Bounds

McCain has totally thrown the rulebook away, so that sort of makes the whole issue moot.

by bernardpliers 2008-04-09 02:02PM | 0 recs
No PAC or Lobbyist money.

If he refuses to take PAC and lobbyist dollars, then what's the problem?

by dystopianfuturetoday 2008-04-09 08:17AM | 0 recs
Doesn't he want transparency?

That bothers me. With this primary season, and the way he has been deftly wording his statements on percentage of donors vs. amounts of money being from small donors, I can't help but wonder who is financing him and why.

The heathcare issue is worth a lot of money to certain interests. If you look at all the money Obama healthcare guy Jim Cooper received in 1994, from the healthcare industry, which was arguably to kill universal healthcare, I have to wonder ...

Neither McCain nor Obama has a workable position on healthcare. Does anybody care? This is going to impact a LOT of people.

by architek 2008-04-09 08:18AM | 0 recs
The American people

All campaign finance donations are matters of public record.  You can look up all of Obama's donors if you wish.

As far as the health care thing goes (and I don't see how it's relevant to this diary), but Clinton will probably have a lot of imput on Obama's health care plan, since she'll be in the senate working on the bill.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Doesn't he want transparency?

I am not following.  What about Obama's fundraising is not transparent again?  Just b/c he opts out of public financing does not mean he does not have to report his donations.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

People Power, Baby, People Power!

by Andre X 2008-04-09 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Nobody cares about financing.

by Liberal Avenger 2008-04-09 08:24AM | 0 recs
Russ is cool with it, I'm sure

Feingold sees that Obama's system isn't corrupt, and knows that Obama never made the "pledge" everyone keeps talking about.  He's a smart guy.

He wouldn't just keep quiet if Obama were doing something wrong. He would leverage his superdelegate status.  So far Obama has not lost any supers, to my knowledge, and losing one as important as Feingold would definitely look bad.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:59AM | 0 recs
Corrupt earmarks, hah

I've seen Obama's earmarks.  Hardly corrupt.  All pork is earmarked, but not all earmarks are pork.

Anyways, the "pledge" was NOT a pledge.  It was an answer on a questionarre that McCain didn't fill out (or if he did, he didn't submit it).  Obama also filled out a detailed format by which he would accept public financing, and those reforms can and will not be implemented in time because of the deadlocked FEC.

You might have a point about McCain's straight talk, if he actually HAD any straight talk.  The guy says what he wants and loses his temper if he doesn't like the question, forcing the asker to back down.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Corrupt earmarks, hah

I believe you are on the wrong website.  Your candidate's supporters are gathering at freerepublic.com

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 09:55AM | 0 recs
Sure

All I see there is McCain bringing far less to his home state than he's entitled to under Congressional rules.

If Obama taps Napoletano as his running mate, he's going to have to fight to keep his own state's electoral votes, and you can be damn sure the lack of "corrupt" earmarks to fix roads or bridges is going to be used against him.

Like I said: All pork is earmarked, but not all earmarks are pork.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Russ is cool with it, I'm sure

You do realize that campaign finance reform had very little to do with public financing, right? I twas all about limiting hard money checks to $2000 (and now $2300).

by Democratic Unity 2008-04-09 01:56PM | 0 recs
He's backing Obama.

Musn't bother him too much.

by Bob Johnson 2008-04-09 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Ask Russ

by minnesotaryan 2008-04-09 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

Oh the irony of watching the Repub party argue FOR public financing! As though they've ever given half a thought to it.

by animated 2008-04-09 09:09AM | 0 recs
It's delicious

I love watching them squirm.  They had a good run, but the giant has awakened.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

I was referring to ordinary voters who simply don't give a damn about how campaigns are financed.

The campaign financing system has been a joke for a long time anyway. Give McBush his two minutes of whining about Obama outspending him and then bury him in $100 contributions.

by Liberal Avenger 2008-04-09 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

I would say that his form of financing is more a reflection of "public" financing than the federal system itself as the public is really the one paying for the campaign. This is what has been so satisfying about the Obama campaign in general--the sense that as a member of the public you can "own" a little piece of the action by contributing and volunteering. It is very progressive actually.

by wasder 2008-04-09 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

"McCain will hammer his 'pledge' to accept public financing to the point where people will forget the fundraising part and will only remember that Obama doesn't keep his word."

With what money will McCain be able to outspend Obama on the airwaves to be able to get this message heard over Obama's constant rebuttal ads bought will millions in small dollar donations.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 08:38AM | 0 recs
It was never a "pledge"

McCain can harp on that all he wants, but it doesn't change the fact that it wasn't a pledge in the first place... it was just a questionarre... one that McCain didn't fill out, even.

Additionally, Obama can point to the fact that he listed a huge set of proposals for fixing campaign finance, including limiting the power of 527s, as part of that answer.  

McCain will only look like an idiot for bringing this up, I promise you.  Last thing he needs is more scrutiny of the fact that his campaign is in violation of public financing, or of the fact that Bush has intentionally hobbled the FEC in an election year by ramming an anti-voting rights commissioner down Congress's throat.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:43AM | 0 recs
You can't make hay...

without any grass. The vast public cares very little about whether you take public financing or not. This is a non-issue for the election, unless McCain is caught in some scandal about it because it is one of his cornerstones. America does care about hypocrisy.

by IowaMike 2008-04-09 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

McCain has no leg to stand on when it comes to this.  It would be silly if millions of people are trying to contribute to say no.

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 08:10AM | 0 recs
Ug
I in no way think Obama, if he is the nominee, should take public financing, but this is not the argument- this looks quite spin-tastic and its just not true. The ability to raise unlimited amounts of money is in no way similar to public financing, no matter who or where the money comes from.
by linc 2008-04-09 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Ug

The point of the campaign finance system is to diminish corruption and the appearance of corruption in politics.  I see no way that Obama can be corrupted to do the bidding of a donor willing to give a measly 93 bucks.  I would not want a politician I could buy for that cheap.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 08:41AM | 0 recs
Holy syncophant day!
it seems like every Obama supporter is on the 'sellout our beliefs if it benefits Obama' wagon today. Was there a full moon last night or something?
by linc 2008-04-09 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Holy syncophant day!

We all are interested in campaign finance reform.

Once it takes place, all of us, including Obama, will be more than happy to take part in the newly renovated system.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:45AM | 0 recs
beliefs? what beliefs?

Progressives believe in getting BIG MONEY out of politics. Up until now the only way to do that was tax payer funding. Guess what...now there is a better way....it's called the internet...ever heard of it?

Don't confuse tactics with strategy.

Internet contributions simplifies the problem of who gets the money...if you're a good candidate you will attract contributions....if not...too bad.

Third party candidates will love this approach.

 

by JoeCoaster 2008-04-09 08:54AM | 0 recs
That is a load of crap
progressives believe that candidates spending time raising money, whomever it is from, needs to go.
progressives believe that getting rid of contributions to political campaigns will even the playing field.
progressives believe that anyone able to contribute to a campaign is having more than their fair share of free speech- there are people who can't contribute, in case you didn't know.
progressives believe that free speech DOES NOT equal money- in any form. Those with it should not control the debate or who gets a say.
by linc 2008-04-09 09:09AM | 0 recs
Barack Obama agrees

The whole issue of money in politics is one that I'm constantly struggling with, because my preference would be that we've got public financing of campaigns and nobody has to raise money whatsoever. - All Things Considered, October 19, 2006.

The underlying issue of how extensively money influences politics is the original sin of everyone who's ever run for office--myself included.  In order to get elected, we need tor aise vast sums of money by meeting and dealing with people who are disproportionally wealthy

Sounds like he knows what he's talking about, and also that he's avoided most of the pitfalls.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:20AM | 0 recs
Citation

The second quote was from the Lobbying Reform Summit in January, 2006.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:24AM | 0 recs
I know he agrees on paper
but so has just about every other democrat since at least 1994.
I am not even someone who thinks, if Obama wins the nomination, that he should accept public funds. It would be idiotic. But that doesn't mean the principle of true campaign finance reform should just be dropped off to defend Obama's rather silly explanation for choosing not to take public funds. He should have just said that he isn't going to do it and been done with it. By raise some silly argument that somehow other people's money is more democratic than others- it just shines more of a spot light on the issue.
by linc 2008-04-09 10:11AM | 0 recs
That is a load of crap

You are sadly stuck in the old money paradigm.

"Senator Obama has always said that this campaign would rise or fall on the willingness of the American people to become partners in an effort to change our politics and start a new chapter in our history,"

"Many of our contributors are volunteering for the campaign, making our campaign the largest grass-roots army in recent political history."
- Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

by JoeCoaster 2008-04-09 09:27AM | 0 recs
No
I just don't change my mind about my progressive principles because Obama tells me to.
by linc 2008-04-09 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Holy syncophant day!

Progressives, myself included, believe that politicians should not be corrupted into doing the bidding of large monied interests.  How that goal is effectuated is irrelevant to me.  That said, I am open to be persuaded.  If you can show me how Obama's $93 donors can later twist his arm to get him to enact their legislation I am all ears.  Not only does not accepting the public financing accord with progressive beliefs on campaign finance but it furthers our belief on a host of other issues to the extent that it will give Obama a huge advantage over McCain and allow him to more easily win the presidency and push for laws reflecting our goals.

Disagree?  Don't call me a sycophant or a sell out.  Just tell me whats wrong with my logic.  As I said I am open minded to the critiques of other progressives.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 09:06AM | 0 recs
See response to JoeCoaster
upthread.
by linc 2008-04-09 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: See response to JoeCoaster

Who put you in charge of writing the progressive creed? I guess your point is that if anyone disagrees with your formula, they're not really progressives. Isn't that what's known as "purity trolling?" Sure sounds like it to me.

I don't by any means completely disagree with the items on your list as progressive values. I think that what you listed is where we should be heading. I also think that Obama not taking PAC money is one helluva great step in the right direction. Does that mean I'm not progressive enough for you? Are you gonna kick me out?

Also, do you have a candidate in mind with a position you prefer?  

by kydoc 2008-04-09 09:33AM | 0 recs
If you argee with what I wrote
then why are you attacking me? Did you even read that I was one the being referred to as not being progressive.
The thought of people like you picking the next president of the United States makes me scared and sick.
Is there any criticism of Obama that you don't react to vitriol? You sound like a g.d. Bush supporter.
by linc 2008-04-09 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Holy syncophant day!

"progressives believe that candidates spending time raising money, whomever it is from, needs to go."

Can you explain what the problem with candidates spending time raising money is.  To the extent that doing this diminishes the time that they have to also communicate with voters I agree with you it is not the ideal use of their time.  However, raising money actually allows candidates to be MORE effective communicating with voters.  They can buy more TV ads, they can pay higher phone bills and staff to coordinate phone banking, they can afford to pay the expenses of more canvassing volunteers from out of state.  On the whole I think facilitating this level of political discourse is a good thing, not a bad thing and I think most progressives would agree.

"progressives believe that getting rid of contributions to political campaigns will even the playing field."

Can you explain what you mean by evening the playing field.  The pre-internet system, I agree, was weighted heavily in favor of monied interests.  With the advent of internet fundraising however, that corporate advantage has disappeared.  Now the candidate whose message resonates most clearly with the most donors will gain the most financial support.  The candidates who have benefitted most from this system have been progressive populists like Howard Dean and Barack Obama.  In no way do I -- or most progressives, I believe -- want to see the system changed such that it creates a more "even playing field" for Republicans and conservatives upset because their message can't compete with ours.  

"progressives believe that anyone able to contribute to a campaign is having more than their fair share of free speech- there are people who can't contribute, in case you didn't know."

I am aware and am sympathetic to the fact that there are people who may not be able to contribute as much as others.  That would be problematic if those who contributed the most actually controlled the content of the speech in any significant way.  The substantive political message of candidates like Obama is not debased by the financial input of those who donate $93 to his campaign.  The message given by his donors can best be characterized as symbolic speech.  These supporters are not expecting to be able to write Obama's speeches for him but are merely giving money as an expression of support for their chosen candidate.  This symbolic message is not significantly different when a poor person gives a dollar from when a more affluent person gives 93.  

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Ug

The point of public financing should not be to limit the amount of money spent (especially since limiting that also limits the amount of information you can spread.)

I for one, though I consider myself a progressive, am not with the crowd on this one. I've never felt comfortable with the idea of public financing. I feel even more strongly about this now that I have seen what Obama is able to do in terms of convincing the public to finance his campaign.

by JDF 2008-04-09 09:04AM | 0 recs
Of course you feel more strongly now
its in you and your candidate's interest. However, turn the tables. What if McCain was the one able to raise millions and millions through contributions? Just because it works well for you and your candidate doesn't make it right. Lest we forget the guy who raised millions and millions through small individual donors the last two cycles- Bush.
by linc 2008-04-09 09:16AM | 0 recs
Not applicable

You can't compare Bush's $2300-a-plate fundraising dinners for the money elite to Obama opening up the internet to Joe Average.

Little guys donating over the internet can't exactly ask for any favors reliably, or threaten to withold the support of their billion dollar company (or, you know, the support of their kids coloring local Obama support group banners).

Anyway, I was glad to see that Clinton figured out how important Obama's fundraising style was eventually.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:29AM | 0 recs
I am not comparing
2300 a plate dinners, which Obama has had his share of, btw.
its about small donor amounts- Bush wrote the hand book. Do a little looking at his fundraising in both 2000 and 2004- a huge portion of it was from conservative middle class church goers- all in small amounts.
by linc 2008-04-09 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: I am not comparing

Ha. obama actually has very few of those. He does it, but not often. This gives him more time to campaign and talk to voters.

Hillary has spend much of the last month scrounging for money.

by Democratic Unity 2008-04-09 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: I am not comparing

Ha. obama actually has very few of those. He does it, but not often. This gives him more time to campaign and talk to voters.

Hillary has spend much of the last month scrounging for money.

by Democratic Unity 2008-04-09 01:59PM | 0 recs
Bush ...

raised money the old fashion way...wealthy bundlers.  Back then giving $2300 dollars was considered a 'small' donor.

by JoeCoaster 2008-04-09 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Of course you feel more strongly now

actually my stance has nothing to do with Obama. It has to do with my personal opinion on how campaigns should work and my world view. I recognize that it is not shared by many here.

And in the interest of full disclosure, yes I make a living due to campaigns having money...so I would like it to stay that way.

by JDF 2008-04-09 08:10PM | 0 recs
Best Kind of Public Financing!

Obama's broad electorate support says it all about a people-powered campaign.

Suck on it, Senator Shortfuse!!

by bjones 2008-04-09 08:20AM | 0 recs
Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising

I really hope McCain attempts to attack Obama on public financing, because I would love to hear McCain explain why it is that he rails against the government wasting away our money but then turned around and used our money as collateral for a loan.

Also, where is McCain's money coming from if not from PACs and Lobbyists?

Of course, in fairness, a majority of McCain's money is clearly coming from nobody, which explains his fundraining numbers.

by SFValues 2008-04-09 08:28AM | 0 recs
Bin-go

I'd be interested to see some actual polling on this, but I have to guess that the public hears of "public financing" for elections and thinks it something of a handout, which, well, it really kind of is.

And there's not anything necessarily wrong with that, except for the fact that John McCain is building himself up as Anti-Spending Crusader, No-tax-dollar-wasted War Hero McCain, and running his campaign off the public dole runs afoul of that.

by kyle in philly 2008-04-09 12:00PM | 0 recs
That won't look good


That won't look good if Obama rejects public financing. I am sure the blogosphere can spin this in our favor but it is only good for home consumption (ourself in the left blogosphere). It won't fly in the general.

I support public financing as a principle and would make it mandatory if I could. But I am a pragmatic man, so the question here is does the advantages of rejecting public financing outweights the inconvenients?

Obama already has an image problem in the general public (comes out as kinda elitist). That would be exacerbated if he were to face a McCain taking the "high road" of public financing. McCain is after all considered a champion of regulating elections (McCain Feingold), he will have no problem spinning this in his favor.

There is the concept of diminishing returns, the return for investment curve is not linear. Outspending Clinton 2 to 1 didn't help him win texas after all (and don't even start about caucuses, there won't be any in the general anyway).

So which is best? (worst?)

by TaiChiMaster 2008-04-09 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good
Oh, and I forget, he said he would.
In retrospect, that may have been a mistake, but that's how it is.
by TaiChiMaster 2008-04-09 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

He didn't say he would.

He said he negotiate a fair, publicly funded election with the Republican.

My guess is he'll do that, McCain won't agree to all the conditions Obama will make, and Obama will opt out while keeping his pledge.

Get it right.

by bawbie 2008-04-09 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

How exactly is John McCain the champion of public financing when he is currently in violation of McCain-Feingold and will probably also opt out of public financing?  Again, if a candidate chooses to take the high road to Nowhere, they should not be surprised when they get there.

by the mollusk 2008-04-09 08:49AM | 0 recs
It's not that bad.

It'll fly in the general because McCain won't make a big deal of it for fear of drawing attention to his public finance malfeasance and Bush's FEC shenanigans.

As for Texas, you might forget, because the media didn't report it much, that Obama actually won the delegate count there and he polls better outside the Democratic primary than Clinton does... in fact, he puts Texas into play... which would be endgame for McCain right there.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

Well considering he is going to be able to spend lots of money pretty much everywhere and McCain will not be able to compete in terms of money, enthusiasm or energy I am not too worried about it.

by JDF 2008-04-09 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

He was suppose to get killed in Texas, but he instead his numbers rocketed up in a very short time.  I'd imagine that's where the money he spent went.

by minnesotaryan 2008-04-09 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

"Obama already has an image problem in the general public"

Not really...

by Democratic Unity 2008-04-09 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

Under the current environment , he should be leading in the polls for geenral election. Yet he doesn't. That's a problem.

by TaiChiMaster 2008-04-09 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: That won't look good

The same could be said about Hillary.  Fact is the competitive Dem primary is dampening poll numbers for our side with partisans of both candidates willing to say they will vote for the other side in Nov.  Wait until a nominee is chosen and then see where our numbers go.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 10:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

He should certainly opt out.

by Bobby Obama 2008-04-09 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

Just did my taxes.  For the first time ever, I declined to give money for public financing.  To me, it is a dead concept which only benefits dead candidates.  And I think there is some validity to the claim that people (like me) sending checks for $50 or less to campaigns is more like public financing than an out-of-date mechanism which serves only as collateral for John McCain.

If someone wants a public finance law that actually has some merit, teeth, and basis in reality, I'm all for it.  The way it stands now, it's a sure ticket to defeat in November.

This time around, we win.

by the mollusk 2008-04-09 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dolla

This is not very encouraging at all for those of us who want public financing across the board. The $93 average donation last month was hardly a lot of people scratching together $5 and $10 to send.

It seems to me that Obama gets it both ways all the time. He can say he's for public financing while raising huge sums of money, then deciding its not that important. For our Congressional races it is.

In case anyone forgot, Democrats are supposed to believe all the money in politics is a bad thing, not a good one.

This is NOTHING akin to public financing, it is the same old, same old.

by RDemocrat 2008-04-09 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dolla

I didn't realize that there was a handbook on every single thing I was supposed to believe as a Democrat.

Also, I bet the majority of Democrats don't believe that all money in politics is bad rather they believe that CERTAIN money in politics is bad.

Then again I have a different view of this, I have spent the last few years working for various democratic campaigns (small races mostly) and wouldn't be able to make nearly the amount I have (and believe me it isn't much to begin with,) if it weren't for the money that is part of the system.  

by JDF 2008-04-09 09:09AM | 0 recs
Yay!

I'm a shady power broker because I financed Obama's campaign with my fifty bucks!

Why am I still living paycheck to paycheck?

But seriously, Obama is all for a reformed, nuanced approach to public financing, but in order for him to enact it easily, he's gotta be president.  

People fault Obama for not using losing strategies all the time; it's very confusing.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dolla

"In case anyone forgot, Democrats are supposed to believe all the money in politics is a bad thing, not a good one."

Its not true that money in politics is a bad thing.  What is bad is where the money comes from and how the influence from this money corrupts our system.  If there were no money in politics than politicians would not be able to spread their message to the whole country effectively.  They would be forced to go door to door or make speeches in public parks.  That is hardly conducive to the type of informed citizenry that the Framers contemplated when they put the power to choose America's leaders into the hands of the people.

by DreamsOfABlueNation 2008-04-09 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

I think he should accept the public financing. $85 million is plenty of money to run a campaign for barely more than two months (the period of time in question). Meanwhile, Obama could redirect his prodigious fundraising machine toward getting more Dems elected to Congress and otherwise strenthening the Party and the progressive movement in general. Also, keep in mind, Obama's grassroots volunteer army means that his $85 million will go a lot farther than McCain's.

by dmc2 2008-04-09 09:06AM | 0 recs
He can fundraise both for himself and the party

In fact he's been doing this all along by donating to most Democrats up for elections.

I won't fault him either way on the public financing issue, to tell the truth... but the chances of him accepting it when McCain is in violation and Bush is preventing FEC from getting quorum is almost nil.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-09 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online

I think he should raise the $200-$250 million that is possible, and then pay his Obama fellows he trains this summer to be ground operatives in all 50 states.

With that much money, you could really truly run a 50 state campaign.

by bawbie 2008-04-09 09:57AM | 0 recs
Game Changer

The 527's will continue to be funded by big money. Obama would be insane and irresponsible to disarm and let the 527's shred him.

Millions of small donors blowing away the advantage of the fat cats. That's as close to public financing as we will see until all 3rd party/527 campaigning can be outlawed (doubtful if that would be constitutional). That terrifies the Republicans and big corporate donors because it destroys their most powerful hold on power and influence in the system.

Up until now you had to be wealthy enough to self finance or you had no choice but to be dependent on wealthy corporate lobbyists and big money oligarchs to run for office. And the fund raising and kissing up to big donors was a full time job that continued after the election was over so you could fund your re-election. Obama's fund raising numbers are a real game changer. Obama is dependent on and beholden to not a group of billionares or lobbyists but a million $100 donors many whom got to $100 by giving $25 at a time over a couple of months.

by hankg 2008-04-09 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

I can't believe this is an issue.  First off, Obama is currently being funded by the public.

I don't understand why he would accept Public Financing (that name is dumb) when he's already effectively being financed by the public.

by RussTC3 2008-04-09 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

Wow, someone else who swallowed that canard about not accepting lobbyist or PAC money.

If it quacks like a lobbyist, it's a lobbyist ( PolitiFact, Aug. 21, 2007)

Lobbyists live in Obama's glass house ( PolitiFact, Jan. 5, 2008)

A Bit More on Barack ( Harpers, Oct. 26, 2006)

PACs and lobbyists aided Obama's rise
Data contrast with his theme ( Boston Globe, Aug. 9, 2007)

Obama's Lobbyist Line
A "more complicated truth" on campaign contributions ( Columbia Journalism Review, Feb. 15, 2008)

Sen. Obama finesses his lobbyist ties ( The Hill, Apr. 19, 2007)

Obama liked PAC money before he didn't like it ( The Swamp, Nov. 28, 2007)

Obama's Oil Spill
Obama says he doesn't take money from oil companies. We say that's a little too slick. ( FactCheck.org, Mar. 31, 2008)

Since January 2005, he has given three times as much to federal candidates (sitting Senators and Representatives and, possibly, challengers) as Sen. Hillary Clinton (HILLPAC). Those incumbent Democrats are super-delegates in August. And how many of those donations are to Democrats who haven't yet endorsed a candidate?

This continued claim that he refuses to take money from PACs and Washington lobbyists is disingenuous.  Obama takes money from both lobbyist clients, and from the lawyers who represent them, i.e., who lobby on their behalf.  He takes money from corporations that lobby Congress.  When Obama talks about not taking lobbyist money, he is insulting the voters' intelligence.

by KimPossible 2008-04-09 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

None of those articles cites (or even accuse) any place where Obama has taken money from a registered federal lobbyist or a PAC for his presidential campaign.

by bawbie 2008-04-09 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

Not to mention the fact that she seems to think it is a bad thing to support your fellow democrats.

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Small Dollar Online Fundraising Akin to

Wait, are you actually complaining that Sen Obama is supporting more democratic candidates than Sen Clinton?

by kasjogren 2008-04-09 10:01AM | 0 recs
This is not public financing.

Public financing is the system funded by people like us checking the $3 box on our tax forms.

It is not accepting thousand-dollar contributions from the wealthy.

Obama has a lot of small donors, and because of that, his "average" contribution is small.

But most of his money comes from big donors: According to OpenSecrets, 60% of his money comes from people donation $200 or more; 32% comes from people donating the maximum $2300.

It's plain and simple. Obama made his pledge (and he did--no ifs, ands, or buts), but wants to backtrack now that it's better for him not to keep it.

Sorry, Obama. If you only have principles when they benefit you, then you don't have any principles at all.

by OrangeFur 2008-04-09 11:33AM | 0 recs
Because he is man of his word?

"What would he (Obama) have to prove by signing up for public financing?"

by joliepoint 2008-04-09 12:34PM | 0 recs
Seems hypocritical to me

He initially said he would take public funds.  But if he is the nominee, this is one case where I am ok with hypocrisy.   He should just admit that he was mistaken in his earlier statement and move on.  

by activatedbybush 2008-04-09 12:38PM | 0 recs
I love to see

Hillary supporters talk about how it's Obama who is being bankrolled by "thousand dollar donations."

by highgrade 2008-04-09 03:45PM | 0 recs

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