Thank You, McCain-Feingold: The Billion Dollar Road to the White House

Thank God McCain-Feingold (better known here as “McCain/Find-gold”) passed and achieved its stated goal of getting the money out of politics, or this would be getting out of control:

The chairman of the Federal Election Commission yesterday predicted that 2008 will produce the first $1 billion presidential race and that the $500 million that each party’s candidate will need to compete will severely limit the field of contenders. 

“The 2008 presidential election will be the longest and most expensive in United States history,” FEC Chairman Michael E. Toner told The Washington Times.

To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, it’s a good thing Washington was so concerned with campaign finance reform, or else we’d be talking real money here.

Chairman of the FEC Michael Toner has seen this heavy presidential price tag coming for quite a while. In a Washington Post article from this spring entitled “Money’s going to talk in 2008,” Toner is quoted from an interview on the price tag for running for president in 2008: “There is a growing sense that there is going to be a $100 million entry fee at the end of 2007 to be considered a serious candidate.” The ante has gone up since then, and multiplied out over the entire field of candidates, the total will approach a billion dollars.

McCain-Feingold sure did get the money out of politics, didn’t it? Since John McCain is considered by many to be among the candidates to beat for the GOP nomination, he may be both surprised, yet pleased to discover, that the law he co-sponsored contains more loopholes than the wall between a high-school girls’ locker room and the woodshop. (whoops, how’d that happen?)

With all these candidates in need of over $100 million to run for president and other public offices, eliminating the money from politics is more important than ever, so the McCain-Feingold people will have to come after heretofore hands-off areas, probably via an Internet tax of some sort within the next decade. Why? Because the Internet is the only untapped keg in the public frat house, and politicians are thirsty beasts.

A quick look at even the seemingly noblest of intentions of McCain-Feingold and the failings are obvious. Did the “stand by your ad” provision, which requires federal candidates say “I approve this message,” bring about a huge decline in negative ads? The thought behind that was, if a candidate had to say “I approve” visibly and audibly, the candidate would be less likely to permit negative or false material in the ad. Sure, and installing video surveillance cameras in your living room will intimidate your dog enough to make him stop dragging his butt across the carpet.

So, get ready to be hit up for financial donations by candidates from all corners of the country bent on “reform.” Why will they need so much cash? Because working to get the money out of politics is expensive!


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Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: