Former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith on Obama's Federal Financing Dilemma

Given the ease with which Barack Obama has demonstrated raising colossal sums of money, one would think that he would be crazy to live up to his promise to eschew private donations for the general election campaign.

John McCain has been hammering Obama for not pledging to take federal financing for the general election campaign after agreeing with McCain last year that if he were the nominee, he would do so.

It would seem that McCain has Obama in a corner; either he takes federal financing and gives up an apparent advantage or he goes the private route and can be criticized for breaking his word.

But according to former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith, the choice for Obama really isn't that difficult; take the $85 million from the government.

Smith made a compelling argument for this position in comments he left on an article I cross posted from
my own blog to RedState.Com on why Obama would be crazy to accept federal funds:

The tax subsidy for the general election, if the candidates take it, is about $85 million. It is a MUCH better deal for the general election than for the primary. That's why even Bush took the general election subsidy.

Think about it - $85 million, to spend between the end of the GOP convention on September 4 and the election on November 4. That's a healthy $1.42 million per day. By comparison, through the end of 2007, Obama had been campaigning for over a year and spent about $85 million.

Additionally, because the subsidy comes with no strings attached, there are no fundraising costs. Typically, fundraising costs can eat up about 20% or more of the funds raised. In other words, to get $85 million to spend, you would have to raise more like $100 million.
Smith goes on at length, carefully showing the enormous problems Obama would have in raising and spending much more than the $85 million he will get anyway from the government.

The complete commentary by Smith and my response can be
found here:
Given the ease with which Barack Obama has demonstrated raising colossal sums of money, one would think that he would be crazy to live up to his promise to eschew private donations for the general election campaign.

John McCain has been hammering Obama for not pledging to take federal financing for the general election campaign after agreeing with McCain last year that if he were the nominee, he would do so.

It would seem that McCain has Obama in a corner; either he takes federal financing and gives up an apparent advantage or he goes the private route and can be criticized for breaking his word.

But according to former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith, the choice for Obama really isn't that difficult; take the $85 million from the government.

Smith made a compelling argument for this position in comments he left on an article I cross posted from
my own blog to RedState.Com on why Obama would be crazy to accept federal funds:

The tax subsidy for the general election, if the candidates take it, is about $85 million. It is a MUCH better deal for the general election than for the primary. That's why even Bush took the general election subsidy.

Think about it - $85 million, to spend between the end of the GOP convention on September 4 and the election on November 4. That's a healthy $1.42 million per day. By comparison, through the end of 2007, Obama had been campaigning for over a year and spent about $85 million.

Additionally, because the subsidy comes with no strings attached, there are no fundraising costs. Typically, fundraising costs can eat up about 20% or more of the funds raised. In other words, to get $85 million to spend, you would have to raise more like $100 million.
Smith goes on at length, carefully showing the enormous problems Obama would have in raising and spending much more than the $85 million he will get anyway from the government.

The complete commentary by Smith and my response can be
found here: