An Eastern Iowa congressman is applauding the Senate’s approval of a measure to end taxpayer financing of national political conventions.
The Senate approved the language 95-4 as an amendment to the Farm Bill, and 2nd District Rep. Dave Loebsack is calling on his House colleagues to follow suit.
“Both Democrats and Republicans are fully capable of funding their own party conventions and do not need to have this taxpayer subsidy,” the Iowa City Democrat said. Loebsack is the first Democrat to sign on to a similar measure in the House that was introduced by Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who formerly led the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Cole said that after 40 straight months of 8 percent unemployment and massive budget deficits “it would be an embarrassment to go into this year’s conventions with this policy still in place.”
The House already has voted once to end taxpayer funding for the Republican and Democratic national conventions. However, this year of $36.6 million — $18.3 million per party — was appropriated to defray the costs of political conventions, according to Loebsack’s office.
Cole hopes Loebsack’s co-sponsorship is the beginning of “growing bipartisan support to sign this commonsense reform into law before another dollar of taxpayer money is wasted on conventions.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, approximately $133.6 million in federal funds supported the 2008 Democratic and Republican conventions. It was provided through separate federal programs that support public financing of presidential campaigns and convention security. Loebsack and others have argued that the events should be entirely self-supporting. However, others say public funding is necessary to avoid real or apparent corruption in this aspect of the presidential nominating process.
In 2008, Congress approved approximately $100 million for security. That money did not go to the parties, but to state and local law enforcement to assist in providing convention security.
The Presidential Election Campaign Fund money comes from the “checkoff” on individuals’ federal income tax returns. Individuals and couples filing jointly may designate $3 and $6, respectively, of their tax liability to the fund.
In exchange for the federal dollars, the parties’ convention committees agree not to raise or spend additional funds and must file disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission.
While Loebsack is hopeful the House will act to on Cole’s legislation, there are competing measures. In addition to ending public funding of conventions, there are proposals that would change or eliminate pubic funding of presidential campaigns.
None of the proposals would affect the security funds.