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lefteh's avatar

Was it a smart move for Obama to opt out of public financing?

Asked by lefteh (9409points) June 19th, 2008

Many are saying it hurts his image as a candidate for reform. I think it’s a perfectly fine move — his campaign is now being financed by his grassroots supporters rather than the system he has set out to change. What do you think?

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13 Answers

jlm11f's avatar

Yes, I do think it was a good move to get funds from the general public votes. This HELPS his reform image because he can honestly say that he does not owe the oil companies, drug companies/insurance etc any money and so he can objectively try to change them and their capitalistic schemes for the better. When candidates get funds from lobbyists of these companies, they “owe” them in a sense, and there is a silent agreement between the two parties that since they are taking care of him/her, he/she will in turn take care of them if he/she gets the nomination. When the presidential debates start between McCain and Obama, I think Obama will use the details about where he got his financial support as an arguing point against McCain. I hope that it helps convince some of the undecided voters to choose Obama :)

lefteh's avatar

The fact that he doesn’t take lobbyist contributions is great, but what does it have to do with his decision to opt out of public financing?

jlm11f's avatar

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. i read your question wrong. frankly, now that i look back at it, i am having trouble believing that i read it at all (sorry!!). I was recently explaining to one of my friends where Obama gets his financial support from, so I was still in that “mood” of things I suppose. You are of course talking about his recent decision, to opt out of the system so he can spend as much money as he wants without restraints. Well, I think that he will garner major criticism for this move by the Republicans but that’s to be expected. In the long run, I think the strategy will help him because he can spend as much money as needed to help sway the primarily republican states. also, he is pretty good at getting people to donate, and even though he rejected about 87 million (?) by opting out of public financing, I think he will be able to pull even more money by having no rules. Of course, now the democrats can criticize McCain of taking money from lobbyists, and repubs will criticize Obama for going back on his “principles” in a way. Sure the pundits will have a field day, but public’s attention span is short. By November, they will not really remember (or care) about this decision at all, so it’s okay to take some heat for it right now.

marinelife's avatar

I am hopeful this won’t boomerang in this year’s campaign, but no one really knows. (I am not a big fan of the success rate of most pundits.) For now, I think the Huffington Post’s analysis may be right, but we will see.

“The conventional wisdom has long been that Obama would massively outraise John McCain and bury him during the general election campaign with advertisements and a ground campaign in all 50 states that would expand the electoral map, testing McCain’s vulnerability in states like Texas, Montana and Georgia, which are not expected to vote Democratic but might, and so will force McCain to defend his turf with resources he could be spending elsewhere.

Indeed, Obama’s prodigious fundraising ability terrifies Republicans. If the more than 1.5 million donors who have contributed to Obama’s primary campaign give just $100 to his general election effort, that already represents more than $150 million—and you can be sure that many will donate much more. Some are already mentioning the possibility of Obama raising more than $300 million just for the general election, a stunning sum to be able to spend in just over two months. With McCain assured of choosing public financing, the mere $85 million he will have to spend in the same time period would make it hard for him to survive the Democratic onslaught in key swing states.

But as the general election is kicking into high gear, it is unclear just how significant Obama’s advantage will be. In fact, there are a number of question marks about both campaigns’ fundraising plans and abilities.”

I will say that I have some concerns for what the implications of that level of spending will have on elections in the future.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

Until there is “true” reform I think opting out is his best choice.

lefteh's avatar

@PnL: I agree with you wholeheartedly.
The way I see it, if Obama’s contributions were coming from corporations, 527s, and lobbyists, I’d have an issue with it. But… well… I’ll let these numbers from the FEC speak for themselves:

Barack Obama:
Total Receipts: $272,167,115
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $265,586,500
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $8,190
Contributions from Party Committees $0
Loans: $0

John McCain:
Total Receipts: $100,950,144
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $2,429,988
Individual Contributions: $91,525,980
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $1,044,365
Contributions from Party Committees $2,850
Loans: $3,921,697

McCain and the Republicans can accuse Obama of being a hypocrite when it comes to change all they want, but one thing is clear: Obama takes money from the American people, McCain takes money from the PACs, lobbyists, and business organizations.

jlm11f's avatar

@ lefteh – i did not know the breakdown for McCain. Thanks for posting!

paradoxer's avatar

Smart? Yes. Principled? No. Obama stated a long time ago that he would take the public financing route because it was less corrupt. I guess now that he discovered he could raise boat loads of money privately he changed his tune. As for the previous poster’s statement about McCain taking money from PACs, lobbyists, etc. That is true, but it is true for Obama as well, in an indirect way. There is nothing stopping individuals that comprise the same groups from donating. In fact, many unions are encouraging their members to donate as individuals to Obama. The fact of the matter is that the public financing route is a less corrupt route and Obama flip-flopped on this issue. I like Obama and was leaning towards voting for him, but this issue has really given me pause as to whether he is really about change or is only about change when it is politically convenient.

lefteh's avatar

While I don’t dispute that Obama changed his mind on this issue, I disagree the idea that changing his mind was a bad thing. The fact that McCain is the Republican candidate changes a lot. McCain designed the campaign finance system that we use today, and he’s quite good at manipulating it. Obama would rather take his money from you and me.

marinelife's avatar

@paradoxer I have never understood why politicians changing their minds on something is a bad thing necessarily. I would prefer a president who looked at new facts or a revised situation and was flexible enough to make changes rather than a zealot who insisted on staying the course even when the course was idiotic.

Do you feel the same way about McCain’s many flip flops? On oil drilling offshore? On Roe v. Wade? On phone company role in wiretapping? On privatizing social security? I could go on, but you get the point.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

Blah, blah, blah. . . . that’s the sound I hear coming from the media. He had a change of heart. Get over it. The other sound I hear; crying. It’s coming from McCain and the Republican party as they tear their own hair out trying to beat “Barak-I’m a fundraising megastar” at their own game. Bummer for them.

skfinkel's avatar

Seems to me that the public financing idea is to put the candidates on an equal footing. They haven’t figured out how to limit the PACs yet, so it becomes a useless limitation. If the rule makes it fair, great. If not, Obama is just being smart to openly reject it. Maybe when he’s president, he can help figure out a way to make it work the way it was intended.

susanc's avatar

sfinkel strikes again with a brief, to the point analysis.

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