First published in the New York Post
BY ED COX, NY GOP Chief
New York taxpayers are the most beleaguered in America; they don’t need to start forking over even more money to fund political campaigns. It’s welfare for politicians.
Last week, more than 70 Democratic Assembly Members called for public financing of state political campaigns. Most, if not all of them, hold carefully gerrymandered seats that they can most likely hold for decades.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in these districts 3-, 4-, 5-, even 6-to-1. But these legislators want taxpayers to pony up tens of thousands of dollars, or more, every two years, for their re-election races.
In 2008, the Assembly passed a bill to force the public to give state politicians $4 for every 1$ they get in contributions. Had it become law, it would have cost cost New Yorkers tens of millions of dollars these past four years.
What’s most galling is that the Democrats — led by the union-backed Working Families Party, as usual — are trying to present this taxpayer shakedown as reform, using recent Albany and New York City scandals as a false rallying cry. That’s an insult to the public’s intelligence.
While some errant members of our party (who’ve since resigned) were also involved, does anyone doubt that Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s desperation to get into the Republican mayoral race was fueled by his desire to fatten his campaign account via the city’s matching-funds program?
Or that Anthony Weiner, driven by the city program’s “use it or lose it” provisions, is now salivating at the chance to rebuild his war chest on the backs of New York City taxpayers?
Or that the several staffers to Democratic Mayoral candidate John Liu who were arrested for creating fake donors did so to take advantage of the city’s public-financing scheme?
If this unholy trinity of New York City Democrats has taught us anything, it’s that public financing has nothing to do cleaning up government.
Taxpayer-subsidized political campaigns have the dream of unions – especially public-sector unions – as well as Democratic legislators for years. It’s a great system for keeping fiscally-responsible candidates from challenging Albany’s business-as-usual.
Yes, public financing would provide challengers with some money – but it would also cap overall spending. That’s a huge advantage to incumbents, who benefit from name recognition from years of past campaigning.
Oh, and the public-sector unions would be able to continue their campaign ground operations, which are of inestimable value, even as challengers would have to pay for every boot on the ground, eating into their spending cap.
It’s a slick move by the Democrats at taxpayer expense.
The Working Families Party and the Democrats know that if they are to starve the campaigns of fiscally responsible Republicans, there would be nothing stopping them from gorging on every last morsel in Albany. There would be no grown-ups left in Albany to say “no.”
Excess taxation – an 8.97 percent state income tax rate, 12.62 percent in New York City – along with over-regulation and exorbitant government pension costs, have made New York one of the least economically competitive states in America. With our business climate ranked worst in the country, jobs are leaving New York in droves — and more than a million New Yorkers have gone with them in the past decade, most of them from struggling Western New York.
And now this? Under the banner of reform?
The rallying cry may be “reform” – but the goal is a power grab and more government spending and corruption. Hold onto your wallets.=
Ed Cox is the chairman of the state Republican Party.