The Daily Bern: Public Campaign Financing Would Boost Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Sen. Bernie Sanders Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

What would happen if we removed corporations and the Koch Brothers from the method the nation used to finance presidential campaigns? According to the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, limiting big-money campaign donations and restoring federal matching funds would benefit candidates serving people rather than businesses. In this race, that means a major beneficiary would be Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Some right-wing extremist candidates would fare well too.

The group’s new research, as reported by NPR, shows the results a public-funding revolution would achieve:

  • The big winner — Sen. Bernie Sanders. In the first half of 2015, he got 77 percent of his money in small contributions, that is, $200 or less. Hillary Clinton raised about 3 1/2 times as much as Sanders, but just 13 percent came from small contributions. With matching funds, Sanders would end up with $83 million, Clinton with $89 million.

  • The big loser — Republican Jeb Bush. He would be the only contender to come out with less money. It reflects the top-heavy profile of Bush’s fundraising: 88 percent of his money came from donors who gave $2,700, the legal limit. Republicans who would benefit most are Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

NPR notes that the US PIRG findings don’t take the specter of SuperPACs into consideration. Additionally, they do not address cost-versus-benefit questions.

We do have to look at reality too. Public funding, which went the way of the dinosaur in 1999, is less likely to happen than Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee showing up in short shorts and waving rainbow flags at a gay pride rally.

While an overhaul of the funding system is a long way away, there are campaign-finance-reform efforts underway. NPR reports Maryland’s John Sarbanes and Dick Durbin of Illinois have proposed recent legislation on the subject in the House of Representatives.

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