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Presidential Public Funding

A record of more than $1 billion was spent by campaigns in the 2008 election. Barack Obama, then candidate for president and long an advocate for public financing of elections, opted not to use the presidential public financing system.

The system worked well for nearly a quarter of a century by limiting the amount that participating presidential candidates could spend on their campaigns. But now, after three elections in which the winner didn’t opt in, it’s clear the system is broken.

Politicians need huge sums to run their campaigns and they often get the money from wealthy donors and special interests. Many of those contributors expect paybacks in the form of earmarks, contracts, or plum government appointments. Because of the corrupting influence of money, many Americans have lost faith in politics and government.

The solution is the public funding of elections. We must modernize the badly outdated presidential public financing system so that it is once again a viable option for all competitive candidates. Recently, a Presidential Public Funding Bill (PDF) (H.R. 6061, S. 3681) was introduced in Congress.

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