January 21, 2011 8:45AM

Private Vice, Public Virtue

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

Would the House plan to vote next week on a proposal to end the system of financing presidential candidates and national conventions with federal funds wisely put to rest a public financing scheme that never worked well, or would it eliminate a bulwark against political corruption by forcing candidates to rely entirely on private money?

My response:

The decades long effort by the Left to finance presidential candidates and national conventions with federal funds — part of the Left’s more ambitious effort to finance all political campaigns with public funds — never worked as proponents hoped it would, with taxpayer participation through check‐​offs declining from 28.7 percent in 1980 to 7.3 percent in 2009 — and for good reason.

The corruption‐​prevention rationale was always bogus. And the idea that public financing would itself be corruption free didn’t pass the straight‐​face test. The American people may be dumb (quiet), but they’re not stupid! They’ll make their political contributions directly — thank you — not through the government — if the law allows them that right, which at present is highly regulated. Let’s hope that this move by the new House is only the first step toward removing government completely from the campaign financing business.