Donation caps, etc.

There seems to be some confusion out there about how the contribution caps work. Here’s the quick version:

Each individual is limited to $2300 in contributions to any candidate for Federal office in a single election. But the nominating campaign and the general election campaign count as two different elections. So you can give up to a total of $4600 to &#8212 just for example &#8212 Barack Obama. And you don’t have to wait until he’s nominated; if money you give today would put you over the $2300 nomination-campaign cap, the campaign will automatically allocate the excess to the general election fund.

If you’re planning to give, now’s the right time. Earlier is always better. If the money Obama raised after New Hampshire had come in two weeks earlier, we would have been spared four months of agony. And don’t worry about missing a fund-raiser; if a maxed-out donor calls the national finance desk, they’ll do the right thing.

And of course if you’re a normal person instead of a rich person or a political junkie, and haven’t given at all yet, now would be a highly excellent time to give $5. And to find two other virgins and get them to give their $5. Takes about 60 seconds on line.

Two million people have put their money behind Obama; I’d like to see that number double by Election Day. Think of it as paying your dues. Or think of it as buying the country back from the lobbyists and the bundlers. But don’t think about it for too long. Do it.

Footnote In case you were wondering: Yes, I’ve already double-maxed. This one’s for keeps, folks.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: