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H.R.133 - Should taxpayers have the option to fund a financing system for Presidential Elections?

Congress member Tom Cole from Oklahoma

To reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of Presidential election campaigns.

You might favor this bill if:
►  If you believe the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which allows taxpayer's to donate $3 out of their income tax out to be utilized towards Presidential campaigns, should be eliminated. Presidential candidates should finance their campaigns by themselves and not subsidized by the taxpayer.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe the current public financing system does not work because Congress has never modernized the current system to account for the greatly increased costs of presidential campaigns. The current public financing system needs meaningful reform, not repeal.

H.R.133 would eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF), ending the taxpayer’s option to designate a portion of their federal income tax to the PECF, eliminating the authority to spend balances in the PECF on presidential campaigns, and transfer a portion of the remaining balances to the 10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative fund and the general fund of the Treasury.

Taxpayers have the option to designate $3 of their income tax liability towards financing of presidential election campaigns. This bill would eliminate such fund.

After termination of the PECF, the Department of the Treasury must transfer some funds to the Pediatric Research Initiative Fund, and add the remainder of the funds to the general fund of the Treasury for deficit reduction.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting this bill:
   1) Would save $63 million over the 2017-2022 (5-year) period;
   2) Would reduce spending by $4 million over the 2017-2027 (10-year) period; and
   3) Would create any revenues.

In the 2016 elections, none of the two major party candidates accepted any PECF money, and other candidates received a total of only about $1.5 million.

"When the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) was created, it was during a time when Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even the widespread use of the internet did not exist. That is no longer the case," says Congressman Cole, sponsor of the bill. "Today, donating to a candidate is as easy as calling up a web page and entering a credit card number. In fact, a majority of donations in the 2012 election cycle made to presidential candidates are of $200 or less."

"It is important to remember even at the height of the program's popularity more than a quarter-century ago, less than one-third of taxpayers chose to support presidential public financing. Check off participation reached a high point in 1980, when 28.7 percent of filers designated funds for the PECF. Since then, participation has substantially declined. In 2009, taxpayer participation reached a low of 7.3 percent. When President Obama opted out of the system in 2008 and raised $745 million, all without a dime of public assistance, he sent a message that public financing is a thing of the past," continued Rep. Cole.

Opposers argue that, on a post Citizens United era, the bill destroys an important check on special interest money.

“The current public financing system does not work because Congress never modernized the system to account for greatly increased costs in the financing of presidential campaigns. The system needs meaningful reform, not repeal, and should be updated to accommodate the new realities of campaign fundraising after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United,” wrote William Samuel, Director of Government Affairs at the AFL-CIO, a democratically governed federation of 55 unions, in a letter sent to Congress members.

“Big money in elections, especially after Citizens United, is corrosive to government accountability and representative democracy. Now is the time to upgrade our presidential public financing system to empower small donors. Eliminating the presidential public financing system will ensure that the presidency is in the hands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and special interest groups,” continued Samuel on the letter. "Candidates of both parties have used the PECF for decades because it is the only existing vehicle for the public financing of presidential elections. Congress should not destroy the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, but should instead modernize it to give everyday citizens a greater voice."


Sponsored by: Rep. Cole, Tom [R-OK-4].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 0 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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