Emily Cadei at CQ Politics notes that this could be the first presidential elections to match up two vocal supporters of public financing of elections, in the form of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. She rightly identifies the glee with which we anticipate the topic of public financing receiving the attention it deserves, despite the barbs the candidates have been trading over the presidential public financing system.
It's a tricky thing, to profess support for public financing and not commit to participating in the presidential public financing program but even those of us that support the public financing option for the presidential race know that the system needs improvement -- chiefly better funding -- if it is to survive as a valuable program:
Public-financing advocates concede that the system needs to be re-examined. “The spending limits in the primary election are too low,” Wertheimer said, noting that the ceiling works out to about $50 million — less than Obama raised in February alone. “Anyone who can raise money knows from the outset that if you go into that system and you happen to win the nomination, you’re going to be trapped.”
[. . .]
Good-government advocates insist that the way to make such calculations obsolete is to modernize the public financing system — and the oversight protocols associated with it — by raising the donation limits to the candidates as well as their spending limits, and by making public financing available earlier in the general election campaign. With senators who publicly embrace “reform” likely to head both tickets, public-funding advocates think such changes could come in the next presidential administration.
Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to fix the presidential program, and if we do in fact see a match-up of the potentially Presidential public financing proponents (us good government types like alliteration, too!) then we'll likely see some healthy debate on the particulars of those fixes, whether or not either candidate is using the public financing system.