Campaigns/Elections

Taxpayers Demonstrated Preference: No Public Financing of Campaigns

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A couple of weeks old, but I missed it. USA Today reports that

Only 7.3% of 2006 tax returns filed from Jan. 1 to April 14 designated a $3 contribution to the public campaign-financing system, according to data the Internal Revenue Service prepared for USA TODAY. It is the latest sign that taxpayer support to help pay for presidential campaigns is waning….. In 2004, 9.2% of returns bore the checkoff, according to the FEC. The high was 28.7% in 1980.

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  1. That’s code for 7.3% of tax filers trust the government.

  2. The support was never there. Legislation to this effect has never gained support, and the fact that an end-around to popular opinion was placed on the tax form at all is offensive and wrong. No news here.

  3. The first year or two, you could actually designate the political party you wanted the money to go to. Once that ended, many taxpayers probably decided to stop checking off. By the way, the Libertarian Party never received one dime even though many members said they specifically designated it. Wonder who did get the LP’s money?

  4. It’s comical that any sane adult could be so gullible as to believe there’s an actual fund to publicly finance elections. We have a national debt in the trillions of dollars, but somewhere in D.C. there’s a bucket full of cash, reserved for just this use? Are 7.3% of American taxpayers that stupid?

    Don’t answer that.

  5. Matthew: On the contrary, this was the perfect government program: Completely opt-in, with records of who opted in recorded so it would be immediately apparent how popular it was, and zero coercion to participate.

    I wish more programs were like this. Imagine if they did Social Security that way.

  6. The first year or two, you could actually designate the political party you wanted the money to go to. Once that ended, many taxpayers probably decided to stop checking off. By the way, the Libertarian Party never received one dime even though many members said they specifically designated it. Wonder who did get the LP’s money?

    When did this start? I think I began filing around 1978 or shortly after. Parties might have been there but I don’t remember them. I never checked off to have money go to campaigns anyway when it was on the form I was filling out.

    It’s comical that any sane adult could be so gullible as to believe there’s an actual fund to publicly finance elections.

    Actually there is. Perhaps you might want to review the federal budgeting and accounting process and fiscal law.

    Now, where the Congress decides that funds from that pot can go is anybody’s guess until one looks through all of the appropriations since the funds inception.

  7. where the Congress decides that funds from that pot can go is anybody’s guess

    Precisely. Just because they have a fund doesn’t mean it has to be, well, funded. Annual budget deficits don’t create themselves.

  8. I wish more programs were like this. Imagine if they did Social Security that way.

    Well, not much to do about SS, but for your income taxes there is a convoluted way to do it. You can donate money to specific government programs. Time was when you could get a 1 for 1 tax credit for doing that, but I think when I researched this about 6 years ago you could take an itemized deduction for it.

    For defense activities it is a little more restrictive, i.e., I don’t think there is a mechanism for you to donate funds for a tank, but there is a fun for donating to the defense department as a whole plus funds for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) that operate recreation centers, hobby shops (like where I work on my vehicles), thrift shops, etc.

  9. Really? Link to details?

  10. If you control the study for accidental stray marks and coffee stains, the number is probably even lower.

  11. For Defense Fiscal Law, this is a good starting point.

    For what I dug up a few years ago on donations to the federal government try this story at the bottom of the page, right after the item about Congressman Rangel wanting to crank up federal slavery again.

    Looks like I did not include if it was a tax deduction or not, since it is a method for those whining about the national debt to donate their tax refund to the treasury. Conslult IRS.gov for the current details of deductability of donations to government organizations.

  12. Are 7.3% of American taxpayers that stupid?

    Hell, I’m impressed that it’s that mind-bogglingly low.

  13. Yeah, I suppose that’s encouragingly low. I wonder how many took their $30 phone surcharge refund?

  14. Hell, I’m impressed that it’s that mind-bogglingly low.

    Come to think about it, this seems to be another of those things that every flaiming Leftist who checks the block off thinks a majority of people are doing with them. Numerous people have expressed this in my presence and they acted like I was the first person they ever met who did not check it off.

    I do hope it comes up in my favorite sports bar/poll center. I could just ask down the bar and I bet there will be more people there who don’t check it off than the silly Leftists who flip-flop in from time to time.

    Even had a very good and bright English teacher who mentioned the check box (in 1988, so there probably was a higher percentage than now on his side) and called it “patriotic”. I was one of the few people in the room who had been doing his own taxes for a while and the only one who voiced that he does not check the box offf and welfare for rich people running for office is not patriotic at all.

  15. To add insult to injury checking the box does not add anything to one’s tax burden anyway. If only 7.3% of filers support a program that does not cost them anything up front (but fucks them up the ass on the other side) could it possibly be less popular? The percentage of the population that believe there is such a thing as a free lunch is far greater than that.

    Here is a summary of this delightful program.

  16. Are 7.3% of American taxpayers that stupid?

    Cartman: “Are you saying that one-fourth of Americans are retards?”
    Kyle: “Yes. One-fourth of Americans are retards.”
    Stan: “Yeah, at least one-fourth.”

  17. This says nothing about preferences towards public financing. If you presented a proposal to fund campaigns from general revenue vs. a special voluntary contribution (is it really a surprise that only suckers voluntarily give extra money to DC?), then you’d get far more than 7.3% approval for the proposal.

    I’d love to see the income breakdown of the 7.3% suckers.

  18. MP, the only flaw in your analysis is that the check-off doesn’t increase your taxes. It is general revenue, not “extra money” out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

  19. MP, the only flaw in your analysis is that the check-off doesn’t increase your taxes. It is general revenue, not “extra money” out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

    That’s a pretty big flaw.

    (skulks away quietly)

  20. Ah, the wonders of a government that can just print money at will and not have to worry about backing it up. (Yeah, I know, servicing the national debt is “only” cough-harrumph-percent of our GDP, blah blah blah. Tell that to your grandchildren when 2 billion Chinese come calling with their hand out.)

  21. When the 7.3% check off that box, they are increasing the national debt that the government claims we are all responsible for. To the extent that future tax rates are set so as to service that debt, those of us in the 92.7% that don’t check-off do wind up paying for this boondoggle.

    Kevin

  22. MP,

    Perhaps you will be happier at Ezra’s ‘blog? I did not see a story on this yet, but he might be more to your leanings.

  23. ed,

    If they go wild printing money there are serious economic consiquences. Perhaps you should refresh your knowledge on the currency float and such?>

  24. “Only 7.3% of 2006 tax returns filed from Jan. 1 to April 14 designated a $3 contribution to the public campaign-financing system, according to data the Internal Revenue Service prepared for USA TODAY. It is the latest sign that taxpayer support to help pay for presidential campaigns is waning…..”

    Of course the people who are actually PAYING virtually all the taxes are only about half the total wage earners – or rather half of the total wage earners that the IRS happens to be able to quantify, which is not necessarily the same thing.

    I expect the people who aren’t paying taxes are all for “public” financing of campaigns just as they are for all sorts of other government spending, since they aren’t the ones actually paying for it.

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