Below is an editorial from Sunday’s New York Times entitled, "Trashing the lessons of Watergate." The editorial opposes efforts in Congress to end the presidential public financing system.

Also below is a release last week from the Committee for Economic Development, a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents. The release also opposes efforts to repeal the presidential public financing system.

The New York Times
Trashing the lessons of Watergate
February 27, 2011

House Republicans, pandering to the new corporate money trough legitimized by the Supreme Court, have voted to kill off public financing for presidential elections. Unless the Senate Democratic majority acts forcefully, the death of the public alternative – first adopted in the wake of the Watergate scandal – could be sealed in the rounds of budget negotiations to come.

That would be historic folly. The public financing system, which encourages and matches small donations with taxpayer funds, has served the nation admirably. Every president until Barack Obama opted for it in the general election, and most candidates embraced this path in the primaries, too.

Mr. Obama pointed to the obvious need to keep the subsidy formulas updated and turned from his early commitment to the system in favor of an Internet bonanza he reaped in small-donation supporters.

This was regrettable, yet serves to underline the fact that the subsidy option only needs a repair and not the burial long sought by the Senate Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other devotees of unlimited corporate donations. The public subsidy remains popular in public polls. Opponents may invoke budget savings – an estimated $52 million a year – but there is no mistaking their aim is to destroy what has been a bulwark against the buying and selling of the presidency.

Easy political money is returning with a vengeance as a result of the Supreme Court’s blessing of anything-goes corporate donors in the Citizens United decision. When reform-minded Democrats pushed for a law requiring big check-writing donors to at least identify themselves, Senator McConnell filibustered the measure, leaving no doubt about his real motivation.

With the vital public option now on the block, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and his chief strategists, Senators Charles Schumer and Richard Durbin, must fight back fiercely. The ghosts of Watergate’s bagmen all too eagerly await.

The Committee for Economic Development
Business Group Supports Presidential Public Financing System
February 23, 2011

CONTACT: Morgan Broman – (202) 469-7814                                         

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) supports the presidential public financing system as an important source of funding presidential elections.  On February 22, 2011, CED submitted an amicus brief in the pending Supreme Court case, McComish v. Bennett.  The case concerns “trigger matching funds” issued to participating candidates in the Arizona Public financing system who face high-spending, nonparticipating opponents, or outside groups. Trigger matching funds enable states such as Arizona to provide publicly funded candidates with enough money to run in competitive races while avoiding the waste of public funds on uncompetitive races. This case is the first time in 35 years that the Supreme Court will rule on a public finance case since the court upheld the presidential public financing system in Buckley v.Valeo.

"The presidential public financing system has been used by every President and general election opponent since 1976 to finance their general election campaigns, with the exception of President Obama, and by most presidential primary candidates in both major parties during its 35-year existence.  However, the presidential system has not been revised since it was first enacted; as a result it is no longer effective," said CED President Charles Kolb. 

"CED opposes the efforts of some in the current Congress to repeal the presidential system and instead supports repairing this important system by broadening the current public funding benefits and making other changes that will encourage greater candidate participation," Mr. Kolb continued. 

CED has been engaging business leaders on campaign finance reform since 1999 and was instrumental in achieving passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) in 2002. In 2005, CED released Building on Reform: A Business Proposal to Strengthen Election Finance, which affirmed CED’s belief in the presidential public financing system.  Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in early 2010 in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, key portions of longstanding campaign finance laws were overturned. CED is again working with business leaders to identify the best policy ideas and to increase disclosure by corporations, labor unions, and trade associations.  For more on CED’s work on money in politics issues,

CED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents. Since 1942, its research and policy programs have addressed many of the nation’s most pressing economic and social issues, including education reform, workforce competitiveness, campaign finance, health care, and global trade and finance. CED promotes policies to produce increased productivity and living standards, greater and more equal opportunity for every citizen, and an improved quality of life for all.