Saturday, October 22


House Republicans are trying to kill the public financing of presidential elections by sneaking it into a bill for reconstruction of the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

It takes gall to use Hurricane Katrina as cover to undermine the democratic process, but that's what conservative ideologues are attempting in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among their budget-cutting proposals - being sold as "tough choices" for America to pay for the Gulf Coast recovery - is a startling plan to kill public financing in the presidential election system.

That program, financed by $3 checkoffs volunteered by taxpayers on their returns, has been a bulwark of presidential elections. It was enacted about 30 years ago, after the Watergate scandal exposed the big-money bagmen corrupting the heart of the political process. It makes politics more competitive for underdogs, more involving for the public and less reliant on floods of special-interest campaign money.

This is a cynical, but typical, attempt by the Rethugs to kill a program they have long opposed, without public debate or hearings. As the League of Women Voters puts it:

At a time when the American people are deeply concerned about growing issues of corruption and ethics abuses in Congress, it would be the height of irresponsibility to terminate one of the nation’s most important programs to protect our democracy against corruption and the appearance of corruption.

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