John McCaslin reports in "Inside the Beltway," his Washington Times column, that Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland) thinks that American taxpayers are being shafted by having to bear the costs of the Republican and Democratic parties' quadrennial political conventions:
"Taxpayers, unfortunately, have had to bear the brunt of the cost for these conventions, which last year totaled almost a third of a billion dollars," says Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, one of several lawmakers who want the pickpocketing to stop.
"The conventions no longer serve the purpose they were intended to serve [when they] used to decide a political party's presidential nominee," the congressman says. "However, it has been a long time since there was any suspense or even pretense about the nominee from either the Republican or Democratic ... conventions."
Last year, taxpayers forked over about $40 million for the Republican convention in Gotham and almost $50 million for the Democrats' bash in Boston. And this does not count the tremendous costs that host cities coughed up to provide security, police protection and transportation services.
Is there anything more unfair -- or absurd -- than having U.S. taxpayers empty their wallets so that a lot of Republican and Democratic fat-cats can have four days of wining and dining in multi-star hotels?
If small-fry political parties like the Libertarians and Greens can afford to pay for their own nominating conventions -- at which, I might add, candidates are actually nominated for president and vice president, and platforms are vigorously debated (not merely rubber-stamped) -- why can't the far richer Republicans and Democrats?
Representative Bartlett has introduced a bill, HR 45, which aims to "amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the use of public funds for political party conventions."
The bill, entitled the "Political Convention Reform Act of 2005," has been referred to the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Ohio Representative Bob Ney. The committee's telephone number is 202-225-8281; its fax number is 202-225-9957.
Let Chairman Ney -- and, while you're at it, your own Representative in Washington (202-224-3121) -- know you support Congressman Bartlett's bill to end the taxpayer subsidy of political party partying.