McCain managed to leverage his public campaign funding as collateral for a loan from a bank.
As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain’s campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there’d be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.
It’s an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system.
Megan McArdle notes:
…public funding is becoming a fallback for losers, rather than a credible committment for front-runners.
I agree, but as with any subsidy what we end up supporting is not the best the industry has to offer but rather the lowest common denominator.
Personally, I think political contributions are a form of free speech and that nobody should be limited in their speech. I think the only limitation on contributions should be that candidates can only receive donations from people who are their constituents. Presidents can accept from everyone, Senators can accept from people in their state, Representatives can only accept from people in their district, and so on. But outside of that, let’s allow citizens to give as much as they want with every single donation (no matter how small) being recorded for transparency and posterity.