The anti-free speech pro-incumbent McCain-Feingold is collapsing, says George Will:
Unalloyed good news is rare, so rejoice: The foremost achievement of the political speech regulators — aka campaign finance “reformers'’ — is collapsing. Taxpayer financing of presidential campaigns, which was in parlous condition in 2004, will die in 2008.
In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush declined public funding — and its accompanying restrictions on raising and spending money — for the primaries, as did Howard Dean and John Kerry in 2004. In 2004, candidates accepting taxpayer funding were restricted to spending $45 million before the conventions. Bush and Kerry raised $269.6 million and $234.6 million respectively before the conventions. Any candidate who accepts public funding in the 2008 primaries will be considered second-tier. And almost certainly neither party’s nominee will accept public funding for the fall campaign.
It is delicious that McCain-Feingold, the reformers’ most recent handiwork, is helping kill taxpayer financing of presidential campaigns. Before McCain-Feingold, limits on contributions of private money — set in 1974 and not indexed for inflation — became steadily more restrictive, so candidates accepted public funding. But McCain-Feingold, by doubling the permissible size of campaign contributions, made it easier for candidates to raise sums far larger than taxpayer funding provides.