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Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": "Obama's Switcheroo"

April 11, 2008

"Obama's Switcheroo"
Editorial

The Wall Street Journal

April 11, 2008

Barack Obama declared this week that he has created a "parallel public financing system." Come again? Let him explain: Under parallel public financing, "the American people decide if they want to support a campaign, they can get on the Internet and finance it."

Up to this moment, "public" financing has meant taking money from the federal government for the general Presidential election. Senator Obama's new system is public, because "the public" sends him the money.

Here's the translation: In November, Mr. Obama said he would accept public financing for the general campaign if John McCain committed to public funds. Now he doesn't want to be tied down by the spending limits attached to public funds. This is embarrassing. Solution: Call his Internet contributors a "parallel public financing" system.

What he is proposing sounds pretty much like what the system would look like if campaign-finance restrictions didn't exist. But they do exist, thanks to reformers like him. Shortly after the candidate made his remarks, a spokesman hurried to say it "was not a policy statement," but merely a description of the nature of his donor base. Barack Obama raised $40 million in the month of March -- twice the $20 million Hillary Clinton's campaign took in. His totals are now more than $230 million.

Good for him. But Mr. Obama is unmistakably talking about abandoning the virtuous world that campaign finance reformers have in mind. The reformers' agenda has always been to limit "the influence of money" in politics, and do so by capping the amount candidates can spend. This naturally appealed to Mr. Obama when he was the underdog. But now that he's top dog, standing on principle isn't as appealing as the prospect of a colossal war chest.

Mr. Obama has also made much of his campaign's pledge not to accept money from political action committees, raising the majority of his funds from small private donations. PACs typically make up less than 1% of overall election donations to Presidential candidates, so that's no sacrifice.

Industry PACs may not give directly to his campaign, but employees of industries may do so, and many of his contributors have come from executives and their spouses. For example, Mr. Obama leads all candidates in donations from the pharmaceutical industry and commercial banks, among other industries. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks fundraising in elections, Mr. Obama has received $528,765 from people in the pharmaceutical industry and $1,380,108 from commercial banks. He comes in second to Mrs. Clinton in donations from lawyers with $13,690,170, just over a million shy of her total.

There is in fact a real parallel financing system already in place and ready to support Mr. Obama. It's called George Soros and so-called 527 groups such as the Democrat-supporting Fund for America or the newly named Progressive Media USA. Progressive Media recently announced plans for a $40 million, four-month campaign against Mr. McCain, and that's only one group in the game.

Mr. Obama once said he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." Mr. McCain has already taken steps toward public financing in the general election. So now Mr. Obama wants to preserve his reputation as a reformer while exploiting his new financial advantage. We are all beginning to learn how expansive the meaning of "change" is.

Read The Editorial In The Wall Street Journal

John McCain, Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": "Obama's Switcheroo" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/291673

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