Public Matching Funds Could Boost Sanders, Cruz, Carson

by
Kate Brown
In order to put democracy back into the hands of ordinary voters, Democrats are pushing for a federal public matching fund that would give small donors more power in the presidential campaigns.

A new report put out by the U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, found that a system of public matching funds would boost potential presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson to the same financial level as Hillary Clinton.

As the presidential campaigns currently stand, it is incredibly easy for large corporations to elect whichever presidential candidates they want; all these companies have to do is throw millions of dollars into their favorite campaign and that candidate would be able to buy so much airtime, manpower, and advertising that they could easily crawl their way into the hearts and minds of voters.

In short, it takes money (and lots of it) to become president—not popularity.

What ends up happening is that candidates like Bernie Sanders, who are largely supported by small donors with high hopes, get little to no airtime, little manpower, and virtually no advertising or marketing team. That translates to no media coverage and essentially no capability to compete with large players like Clinton — despite their potential popularity among the average voter.

You might be asking yourself, well, if they’re supported by enough people, they would be able to get the funds necessary to compete with a large candidate like Clinton, right?

Not exactly.

How many big corporate sponsors would it take for Clinton to get, say, two million dollars? Possibly only one if she makes the right deal with the right company. Case in point: at the same time as millions of dollars from a big oil company operating in Colombia, as well as the company’s founder, were being added to her foundation, Clinton suddenly switched her position and decided to back up a controversial U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement. During that same time period, Clinton certified Colombia’s human rights records amid some seriously disturbing reports of violence against Colombian unionists, which in turn released the issue to the Colombian military.

How can she get away with that? Thanks to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, this kind of thing is perfectly fine and dandy as long as there is no physical evidence that a bribe took place, no matter how bad it looks.

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With this new public matching system, however, Sanders would actually have a real chance to compete without having to bargain with his stance on any issue.

The matching funds would be provided at a 6 to 1 ratio for donations under 200 dollars, which means that if Sanders or Cruz were to get, say, 100 dollars from a neighbor, this new federal public matching system would give their campaign an additional 600—a total of 700 dollars. This would ensure that the average voter’s money would actually be able to compete with larger donors.

How much would this actually help a candidate like Sanders, who is attempting to make his way through his campaign without accepting corporate funds?

Turns out, quite a bit!

Earlier this week, it stood that 77 percent of contributions toward Sanders have been 200 dollars or less, compared to just 18 percent of contributions toward Clinton. With this new public matching fund system, Sanders would receive far more support than Clinton’s campaign, to the point that he would actually be about neck and neck with her in the money race.

On the other hand, since the majority of Bush’s donations have come from donors giving the $2,700 maximum, he would actually lose money if he participated in a matching system.

According to The Intercept, “The Democratic Party has recently coalesced in support of a public matching fund system, with 153 of the 188 Democrats in the House of Representatives endorsing a bill establishing such a system, along with 19 of the 44 Democratic senators plus Sanders.”

Clinton has reportedly even made it a part of her presidential campaign.

The logic is fairly simple: instead of focusing on restricting the top 0.1 percent, the idea follows that the Supreme Court should focus on giving more power to the bottom 99.9 percent.

The study’s author, U.S. PIRG’s Dan Smith, broke it down even further: “A small donor matching system would put democracy back in the hands of ordinary Americans.”

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