TRI-CITY RECORD: Bipartisan Push to End Taxpayer Funding of Political Conventions
Oct 4, 2012 -
By Rep. Fred Upton -
Every four years, our nation’s major political parties come together for their respective presidential nominating conventions, like those recently held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tampa, Florida.
Long a part of the American political system, these largely symbolic gatherings are run by and for the political parties, without an official role for the federal government. And yet, since 1976, American taxpayers have footed more than $200 million for the nominating conventions – covering such expenses as entertainment, gift bags, catering, consulting fees, floral arrangements, and various production costs. This year’s multi-day conventions alone received $36.5 million in direct, non-security assistance from the American taxpayer.
Today we stand at the edge of a fiscal cliff facing an historic $16 trillion national debt, a potentially massive tax hike at the beginning of the new year, and the impending budget sequester, which if not addressed will indiscriminately slash defense and non-defense spending across the board. At a time when so much is at stake and every dollar matters, it is simply outrageous that we should continue to squander taxpayer funds on these lavish political gatherings to showcase our presidential nominees.
The House recently voted 310 to 95 to pass legislation (H.R. 5912) ending the practice of subsidizing political conventions with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. As amended, this bipartisan bill requires these convention funds to be returned to the U.S. Treasury for purposes of deficit reduction. Such a provision has also shown strong bipartisan support in the Senate – meaning that there is hope that this overdue reform could be enacted before year’s end.
Tough choices lie ahead as we work to put our nation’s fiscal house in order. With every thinkable program on the chopping block and long-term budgetary reforms needed, surely these dollars could be put to better use.