Econintersect: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that eliminating Federal matching funds for Presidential campaigns will save the Government $617 over the next ten years.H.R. 359 would amend federal law to end taxpayers’ option to designate a portion of their federal income tax to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF); the bill would transfer all balances in that fund to the general fund of the Treasury and end authority to spend funds on Presidential campaigns. By eliminating that option, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 359 would reduce direct spending by $617 million over the 2011-2021 period.
The savings, of course – correspond to the four year election cycles so the next big savings year would be 2012. The PECF provides money for Presidential election campaigns. The fund is financed by taxpayers who voluntarily designate on their income tax returns that a portion of their annual tax liability ($3 for individual income tax filers and $6 for joint returns).
The voluntary earmarking of a portion of a taxpayer’s liability does not affect the amount of tax owed to the federal government or the amount of any refund owed to that taxpayer. The fund currently collects about $42 million annually, and its balance was $195 million at the end of 2010. For the 2008 Presidential election cycle outlays from the PECF totaled $135 million.
CBO estimates that terminating the PECF would reduce direct spending by $617 million over the 2011-2021 period. That estimate is based on the number (and size) of voluntary designations that taxpayers are likely to make over the 2011-2021 period, the current fund balance, and the amount of public funding that we expect will be requested for the 2012, 2016, and 2020 Presidential elections.
Eliminating the PECF could lead to administrative savings at the Federal Election Commission. Any such savings would depend on the amounts provided to the commission in future appropriation acts.