Personally, I’d prefer death with dignity, but do-gooders everywhere are excited (perhaps I exaggerate - mildly engaged?) about a new proposal from the usual suspects (absent Senator McCain, notably) to save the Presidential Public Financing System.One thing I forgot to note about the Feingold bill. The limit for matching contributions is lowered from $250 to $200. That may not seem important, but it is. A contribution of $250 must be reported to the FEC along with the name, address, occupation and employer of the contributor. A $200 contribution does not.
Is it an important distinction, perhaps and perhaps not, but there is no rationale offered for lowering the threshold--but it does present an interesting juxtaposition for Feingold, et al.
UPDATE: Bob Bauer sees something much more sinister in the Feingold Bill.
While it is modeled on its predecessor, and for this reason may seem familiar—a treasured bit of clothing adjusted for a better fit—it is more, far more, than that. At this moment in time, in structure and professed aim, the proposal presents a pivotal choice of direction in campaign finance regulation.
This is movement toward reform far broader in ambition than a statute like BCRA, as consequential as it was, which was advertised as an exercise in law enforcement. By the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, spent on a mix of inducements and penalties, the bill, if passed, would bring the country closer to an effectively mandatory public funding system in Presidential elections. Reformers’ hopes for an eventual adaptation of the same program to Congressional elections, toward the same goal of enhanced "competition," rest on the outcome.
Update (7/31/06): The Lonely Centrist weighs in as well by pointing to this post by the Cato Institute.