April 15, 2020 – In a surprise move, and in the face of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s longstanding opposition, President Trump now appears to have embraced public financing of elections – but only for his own re-election.
It appears, some say, that the only plausible reason for Trump’s unprecedented decision to have his unneeded name added to the Treasury stimulus checks being mailed to 70 million Americans is to promote himself and his re-election.
Trump is well known for placing his name on everything in sight as a means of shameless self-promotion. With a presumptive Democratic nominee now in place, the presidential general election is underway, and Trump appears to be putting his name on the stimulus checks to start his own version of presidential public financing – for Trump only.
The cost of printing and mailing these checks will be borne by taxpayers. Hopefully, Trump will arrange for the reimbursement of the mailing costs to the financially struggling Post Office.
There is, of course, a better way to provide public financing of elections. It is found in H.R. 1, the comprehensive democracy reform legislation which was enacted last March by the House and which has 47 sponsors for its companion measure in the Senate.
This legislation would create a small donor, public matching funds system available to all presidential and congressional candidates who meet fair, non-partisan eligibility criteria. The system would not be paid for by taxpayers but would be wholly funded by penalties and settlements paid to the government by corporate lawbreakers and wealthy tax cheats.
Democracy 21 strongly supports this new public matching funds system and all of the other essential democracy reforms contained in H.R. 1 to repair our broken political system.
Who knows? Perhaps with his apparent new embrace of using public financing for his presidential campaign, Trump will see the light and join the movement to repair our corrupt campaign finance system by creating a small donor, public matching funds system available for all federal candidates.