Taxpayers and Public Financing

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USA Today writes about the declining number of people checking the box to earmark $3 on their tax return for the presidential public financing fund. The article discusses a number of reasons for the decline but one of the biggest has to be that there's very little public education on it anymore -- I keep track of news on public financing for a living after all, and I haven't seen more than a couple of articles explaining or promoting the check-off system.

 

Conventional wisdom says voters must just not want publicly financed elections anymore, when actually we've found in our polling that about three-quarters of voters would support a public financing system for elections. New taxpayers join the rolls each year; they need to hear that using the check-off doesn't increase your tax burden, and that failing to check the box means candidates are less and less likely to opt into the system meaning they are more reliant than ever on private money and big donors -- and even less likely to pursue tax policy (and spending initiatives) that benefit the non-wealthy.