Sorry, but I'm not giving anybody any money until there's campaign finance reform. Also, I'm saving up money for a new humidifier.
February 26, 2011 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Do you throw $3 at the Presidential Campaign Fund when prompted by your tax filer?

I've always glibly checked the option to donate $3 to the Presidential Campaign Fund when filing my taxes, figuring it doesn't hurt. Does it? Will my $3 make any sort of difference? I know candidates have increasingly begun to refuse the funds, so where does the money go? Most information I found was in the vein of "will this affect my return," but I wanted to see how common it is to check the box and to get some insight into the effects.
posted by therewolf to Law & Government (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I always check the option too. I think the money just stays in the fund to be used for the next election period since according to the Wikipedia article it seems like the government can't use that money for anything else.
posted by touareg at 10:05 PM on February 26, 2011

I check the box too, just as a data point.
posted by verbyournouns at 10:13 PM on February 26, 2011

I don't check it. They're gonna raise $100 million either way, and hey, $3! If we ever get to public funding of elections, I will gladly pitch in, but until then, no thank you.
posted by Gilbert at 10:39 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't check it. They're gonna raise $100 million either way, and hey, $3!

Sorry if I've read you wrong but the $3 isn't money you lose if you tick the box. The $3 is merely earmarked from what you're already paying - it doesn't increase your tax bill.
posted by wackybrit at 10:57 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't check it. Campaign ads are distortions and crap, and I'm not letting any more of my money get shifted away from paying for real government needs if I can help it. It's like giving money straight to the big media outlets.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:57 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

No. I don't like subsidizing speech that I may disagree with.
posted by saslett at 10:59 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a firm believer of public financing of campaigns. The critical mass is just so far away it is tough to see the value in it, for reasons similar to what Daddy-O said. I still check it and hope.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:04 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've never donated to the fund in my almost two decades of filing, and I usually always donate to similar optional funds like that. The election one just raises my anarchist hackles too much.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:38 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't donate to the fun for the same reason as Daddy-O. I want to see my tax money going to actual government services, not campaign funds that already are over-saturated.
posted by orangeseed at 11:44 PM on February 26, 2011

Don't those funds go, for the most part, to candidates that don't have much money otherwise? And if you accept those funds, don't you have awfully strict fundraising rules applied to you?
posted by flaterik at 11:45 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Heck no, they get enough of my money already :) I figure they make what money they need for donations. Now, if that 3 dollars went to some childrens fund or other good charity, I would definitely donate. But politicians? No.
posted by Polgara at 11:48 PM on February 26, 2011

I don't check it. There are plenty of other programs that need the funding...and there's the deficit...
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:49 PM on February 26, 2011

I never voted for anybody. I always voted against. - W.C. Fields

Based on this philosophy I never check that box.

I really wish you could assign $3, just $3, to wherever you wanted. My $3 would probably go towards bunny slippers for the guys in the nuclear bunkers.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:50 PM on February 26, 2011

I check it in the hopes that it's $3 worth of corporate whoring they won't have to sink to.
I'm pretty sure I haven't gotten my money's worth, but hope springs eternal.
posted by lekvar at 12:21 AM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I always check that box, yet I feel the same hesitation as others.
While it may subsidize speech I do not agree with, its one step closer to my wishes of fully public campaign funding that is found in other democracies.
posted by handbanana at 5:44 AM on February 27, 2011

I always check it -- it's the portion of my taxes I have control over where it goes. It's $3 that won't be used to kill anybody.
posted by Devoidoid at 6:29 AM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I check the box---mostly just to annoy my husband.
posted by aetg at 6:37 AM on February 27, 2011

Nope, I never check it. I'd rather donate directly to a specific candidate.
posted by sonika at 7:20 AM on February 27, 2011

As a general rule, you should check the box if you support public financing of campaigns and not check the box if you don't - a basic sort of Golden Rule type ethics (or the categorical imperative) says you should do exactly what you'd want everyone else to do given the same circumstances. The arguments in this thread are ultimately just going to be arguments for or against public financing, so you should decide how you feel about that and then make a decision.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Like Devoidoid, I check it because it lowers (insignificantly) the portion of the remainder that can go to the Department of War.

I would favor check boxes that could help me direct my tax dollars to things of actual significance though.
posted by quarterframer at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I always check it.

Although I have a deep and burning hatred of the way it's set up from working as a volunteer tax preparer. "Um, so, do you want to check this box to give $3 to presidential campaign financing? Except it's actually not really like giving $3, the amount you pay in taxes will stay exactly the same either way. No, seriously, it's not a donation of your money, it's just whether or not they should set aside $3 of the taxes you're paying for this or put all of those taxes into the general budget for everything else. Yes, I know it's strange, I guess they just want to know how many people support it. No, I'm not sure all the details of how the financing works, and no, we don't really have time right now to get into a discussion about presidential campaigns and money in politics and how you feel about politicians. Yes, it's totally up to you, what do you want to do?"
posted by EmilyClimbs at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2011

I never checked it because I didn't know what it was.

Now that I know, I will probably check it in the future.
posted by muddgirl at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2011

posted by jindc at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2011

I check it. Nominees who accept public funding can't take money from PACs, so I like to support public funding.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2011

Huh. I didn't realize it was included - I thought it was an extra $3. WELL THEN. I shall start checking the box! I'm all for using money I'm already paying for things that aren't weapons. My objection was shelling out extra money for elections when I'd rather support specific candidates than "elections." But if I'm paying it already... GO FOR IT.
posted by sonika at 1:11 PM on February 27, 2011

I used to check it back when the program began but I stopped in the 90s. The program went live in 1976 in the shadow of Watergate when people thought that public funding would make things right. That first year, 27.5% of filers checked the box. Ask yourself: have politics gotten better since 1976? Have politicians who used the matching funds program been more responsive to their constituents as a result? Even the more idealistic of us would have difficulty answering yes to that question. And most have answered no. By 2010, that percentage of filers checking the box had dropped to 6.6%. Public funding was a worthy experiment but it appears to have failed. At best, it's a way for lesser known candidates to get extra funds for early primary elections, but no nominee from a major party will ever again accept the general election matching funds. And thanks to the Citizens United decision, more corporate dollars will be finding their way into elections. Public funding is a great idea in theory but has, and will continue to fail in practice. Don't check the box.
posted by Jamesonian at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2011

One more point most of which most people are unaware. Did you know that the $3 your check-off earmarks for public funding also goes to pay for the conventions? Yup. Each major party received a large grant from that fund to pay for their balloons, bunting, arena rental, luxury suites, food, party hats, etc. Feel better about it now?
posted by Jamesonian at 2:34 PM on February 27, 2011

The republicans want to get rid of it, which is why I check it every year.
posted by turducken at 4:45 PM on February 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

I do check it, but there are some persuasive reasons here not to.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 8:30 PM on February 27, 2011

I always check the box because I support public financing, mostly do to it levelling the playing field and putting more restrictions on the candidates. I used to do tech support for H&R Block and I'd get infuriated when I heard the tax agents gloss over the question and not explain that they weren't getting taxed an extra $3 when random people said "Hell no! That's my money!"
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:10 AM on February 28, 2011

"The republicans want to get rid of it, which is why I check it every year."

You do realize that some of your $3 contribution will go towards GOP candidates and help pay for their nominating convention.
posted by Jamesonian at 2:25 PM on March 3, 2011

I am not intentionally being a dick, but perhaps the problem with this program is that many people have no idea how it works. A little PR could go a long way... but then, I don't think any party has an interest in public financing.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2011

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