This year, the U.S. Treasury will fork over a grand total of $18.2 million each to the Republican Party and Democrat Party, so that they can have a good-old time at their national conventions.
The grants for the major parties’ conventions and general election nominees are adjusted each Presidential election year to account for increases in the cost of living. The major parties are each entitled to $4 million (plus cost-of-living adjustments) to finance their national Presidential nominating conventions. The major party nominees may each be eligible for a public grant of $20 million (plus a cost-of-living adjustment) for campaigning in the general election.
In 2012, each major party is entitled to $18.2 million in public funds for their conventions, and the parties’ general election nominees are eligible to receive $91.2 million in public funds.
What is the official justification of this expenditure? This: “to reduce the role of large private contributions in Presidential elections.” Somehow, I find the official reason hard to believe.
How much money are the two parties likely to spend on the Presidential race in 2012? National Public Radio has estimated $2 billion, total. Some skeptics dismiss this. They say that Obama raised only about $750 million in 2008.
So, to keep private donations this low, the Treasury will put up $36.4 million to pay for the two conventions.
While few people watch the conventions on TV any longer, we all know that national political conventions are part of the national heritage.
Then there are economic considerations. Think of all those hard-working ladies of the evening in Charlotte and Tampa whose businesses need a shot in the arm, so to speak. Keynesian tells us that government spending creates wealth. The money has to be injected into the economy at specific points. Why not at the two conventions?
This is the nation’s civil act of covenant renewal every four years. It is the equivalent of the church’s ritual communion. This is a religious act. The federal government wants to participate. That is what the $36.4 million price tag is all about.