The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

GOP senator favors publicly-financed elections

That Ohio's Republican Senator Goerge Voinovich is on board is great news, but the issue isn't even on the radar of the mainstream press. Al Franken has been making some cogent and compelling arguments in favor of the measure recently, but the bad news is that the public might tune out when they hear the words 'publically-financed.'

The truth is that taxpayers would stand to save billions by taking funding away from big business, who invariably use their millions to enact legislation that benefits their bottom line, and not the worker or consumer. And government would save billions by getting rid of corporate-backed earmarks. And facing the largest deficits in world history, we could certainly stand to free up some tax dollars.

Sen. George Voinovich, Ethics Committee chairman and a sometime gadfly to Republican leadership, is warming to Democratic-backed proposals for public financing of federal elections.

Voinovich (R-Ohio) told The Hill that he has met with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) to discuss collaboration on the public-financing pitch Durbin is crafting with Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), the Rules Committee’s ranking Democrat. Snagging the endorsement of Voinovich, who last year bucked his party by opposing the confirmation of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and has so far taken a supporting role in the GOP’s push for lobbying reform, could give the public-financing concept considerable momentum.

“Maybe it is the answer,” Voinovich said. “Too much of our time is spent raising money, time spent campaigning, time buying TV ads. When everyone’s out there trying to raise money, dialing for dollars ... until we deal with this issue you’re going to continue to have problems.”

Voinovich’s enthusiasm for a public financing system, versions of which have been instituted at state and local levels in seven states, comes as Republicans continue to hammer out a lobbying-reform package that can be swiftly marked up after this week’s recess.

Public financing is unlikely to show up in either the Senate or House leadership’s lobbying and ethics overhauls, but Voinovich joins a growing chorus of members seeking to add new campaign-finance restrictions to any broader institutional cleanup effort.