Focus on finances, not recipes

For your consideration, two thoughts about the presidential election I had when I should have been at the gym:

• One of the most common attacks you’ll hear on Barack Obama is that he’ll raise your taxes. So why is he getting attacked for turning down $85 million in taxpayer money?

That’s the amount Obama would have received if he accepted public financing for the presidential election. Obama passed it up because he’d only be allowed to spend a match of $85 million in campaign contributions, and he’s already raised nearly $300 million over his 18 months of campaigning.

Obama promised he would “aggressively pursue” an agreement with John McCain on public financing, but aides couldn’t reach an agreement on shutting down outside political advertising groups. Moveon.org has shut down its advertising since Obama took control of the Democratic Party, while McCain has insisted he can’t referee every outside group. Obama would be foolish to leave millions on the table if it could fight smear campaigns that stung McCain in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Before you criticize the big money in Obama’s campaign, take a look at public financing again. The rules that put public financing in place also create maximum contribution amounts so campaigns aren’t entirely financed by corporations and special interest groups.

Let’s hear what an expert on campaign finance said on the subject:

“The Internet is generating more and more people involved in the political process with relatively small campaign contributions, $50, $75. That’s wonderful. No longer can an office holder call up a CEO or a trial lawyer or a union leader and say, I need $1 million.”

The expert would be pleased the average Obama donation is $95. That means for every maximum contribution of $2,300, 49 other people donate $50. We should reward a candidate who raises $300 million by inspiring Americans who choose to donate, not demand that candidate spend $85 million from taxpayers who have no choice but to give.

And the expert? That is