In several days, the Republican National convention to nominate its candidate for President will begin. Soon thereafter, the Democratic Convention will be held.
The two events costly. Multi millions of dollars. All those balloons that come down upon the Presidential nominee and delegates cost money.
The national conventions have been referred to as summertime parties. And parties they are. Think back at the happy faces you have seen on television over the years.
The Nixon era focused on corruption in government. Political corruption. The evil of monies from major corporations and the wealthy.
At that time, the conventions cost reach party roughly $2 million. Congress came up with a scheme whereby taxpayer monies could be used to pay the cost of the conventions.
Taxpayers themselves would decide if they wanted their tax dollars used. The annual taxpayer form was amended to add a box. If a taxpayer wanted $3 of his tax dollars to go to pay for national political conventions, the box had to be checked.
The first year for those tax dollars to be used for the conventions was 1976. Each party received a little more than $2 million. Since that time the fund has grown.
Through the 2012 nominating conventions, the number contributing $3 grew to 33 million. The amount to each political party rose similarly.
The 1976 $2 million became $18,248,300 to each political party. A total of $36.5 million.
On top of which (there is always more), each party received directly from the federal government $50 million for security. Generally, for the streets outside the convention halls.
This brings the total the parties received in 2012 for convention purposes to $136 million.
The desire for a corruption free process to nominate Presidential candidates eroded over the years. In 1976 and the early years thereafter, convention costs were able to be paid out of taxpayer monies.
Then came a politically free spending Congress and a Supreme Court that held corporations are people. As such, they could contribute as much as they wanted. Even in the billions. Called free speech. Likewise, the very rich. Through PACs and corporations set up for that purpose.
In 2012, the Republican convention cost $74 million. The Democratic one $66 million. Note again only $18.2 million of taxpayer monies was available to each party. The almost 100 percent percent public funding of the conventions in 1976 became significantly lower in 2012. The 2012 tax dollars paid for 25 percent of the Republican convention and 28 percent of the Democratic convention.
The balance of monies needed came from big corporations and the very wealthy.
Prior to 2012, a simple rule was invoked as to how the taxpayer dollars were to be used. Generally, the dollars could be spent for anything inside the convention hall. Outside was the headache of others. The delegates, corporations and the wealthy.
Examples of the inside convention hall expenses included payroll for staff (in the millions), lodging (close to the million mark), catering, airfare, film production, banners, promotional items, photography services, floral arrangements, communication consultants, political consulting fees, music, production podium, gifts/trinkets, make up consultants, and entertainment.
The booze and balloons part of the above.
Now came 2014. Not a Presidential election year. Obama recognized that the conventions really did not need the taxpayer dollars any longer. Corporate and wealthy donors were more than sufficient to pay all convention costs.
Congress agreed with him. A bipartisan law resulted.
Obama signed a bill doing away with taxpayer monies coming out of the fund to pay the costs of national political conventions. The monies hence forth would be earmarked for pediatric research: Cancer, autism, fragile X syndrome, and other childhood diseases.
A noble effort on the surface.
Congressional Republicans said they wanted to ditch the political money and put children first. A joke. It would have been one of the first times in recent years if it were true. Think how many child programs were cut or eliminated by Republican majorities in recent years.
The monies were to go to the National Institutes of Health to distribute and oversee. The problem was Congress never authorized the money. Remember, the taxpayer dollars used for the conventions came from the $3 check off box. Pediatric research required direct Congressional appropriation.
Thus to this day, no monies, not one penny, have gone to pediatric research. Cause there ain’t no monies! None ever legislatively appropriated.
To answer the question raised in the title as to who would be paying for the booze and balloons this year, Corporate America and the very rich. Those that can afford it.
By so doing, the big corporations and very rich acquire additional influence over members of our government. Whether Republican or Democratic.