Why make taxpayers fund candidates they don't support?

Published in the Coastal Observer- June 4, 2009

By Tom Swatzel

Do you agree with liberal Democrat Rep. Vida Miller that you and your family should be taxed to pay for the election campaigns of politicians running for the General Assembly or statewide office?

Especially now, in this severe economic recession -- with state and local governments having to cut back on basic services including laying off hundreds of teachers -- is it really a good idea, as Miller proposes, to divert our tax dollars to pay instead for politicians' political campaign ads?

Do you think it’s wise, as Miller wants, to give politicians state-issued, taxpayer-funded debit cards to pay for all their campaign signs, bumper stickers, polling, and other campaign costs?

Do you think it's fair that you would be forced under Miller's scheme to financially support the campaigns even of politicians whose views you strongly oppose?

Not surprisingly, there are a handful of radically liberal politicians in Columbia who agree with Miller, who would answer “yes” to all the above and do think it’s good public policy to coerce you and me to fund their election campaigns with our state tax dollars.

Luckily for us, these radically liberal politicians are few in number. Out of 124 members of the state House, only three were willing this year to join Miller in sponsoring legislation that would force taxpayers to fund election campaigns. Thankfully, her legislation never made it out of committee.

Besides Miller, who are the politicians who think you and I should be forced to pay for their reelection campaigns? Democrat representatives Joe Neal, David Mack, and Lonnie Hosey.

It’s no real surprise that Miller is pushing this coercive big government legislation. Her liberal views are in complete agreement with the S.C. Progressive Network, the left-wing special interest group clamoring for her compulsory taxpayer-funded campaign bill. Both SCPN and Miller are pro-abortion, anti-Right to Work, and don’t support the state Marriage Protection Amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one women.

In 2005, Neal joined Miller in refusing to vote in favor of even putting the Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot, and in 2007, they refused to vote to ratify the amendment even after 77 percent of South Carolinians voted in favor of it. The official House Journal recorded Miller and Neal as “present” but not voting in each case. Mack was also recorded as present but not voting in 2005, but in 2007, he actually voted against ratifying the amendment.

According to research by the North Carolina-based Civitas Institute, the influence of liberal special interest groups such as S.C. Progressive Network is likely to increase with taxpayer-financed elections.

According to the Institute, “special interest groups would be able to leverage smaller amounts of private money to open public coffers for their chosen candidates. One can easily envision teachers unions hand-picking the candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction by mining the union members for the qualifying contributions.”

Additionally, in a study of taxpayer-financed elections in Maine and Arizona, the Civitas Institute found the following problems:

* Incumbent politicians became further entrenched.
* The number of candidates running did not increase.
* The way lawmakers vote on legislation did not change.
* Elections were not more competitive.
* Voter turnout did not increase.
* Taxpayers' confidence in government did not improve.

Clearly, the research proves that compulsory taxpayer-financed elections do not live up to the promises of their propagandists.

Let’s be thankful Miller and her small band of big government liberals in Columbia were not successful in forcing us to pay for their reelection campaigns. Please join me in urging her to drop this terrible idea.

Swatzel is the chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party