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Friday, October 26, 2012

They Both Raised a Billion Dollars Each

Posted by on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

This New York Times story depresses the shit out of me:

President Obama and Mitt Romney are both on pace to raise more than $1 billion with their parties by Election Day, according to financial disclosures filed by the campaigns on Thursday.

From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Mr. Obama and the Democrats raised about $1.06 billion, and Mr. Romney and the Republicans collected $954 million, including some money for the party’s Congressional efforts, setting up 2012 to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history.

I know that when you're talking about the federal budget, a billion dollars is kind of insignificant. But still: It's impossible not to look at that figure of all the money that's been thrown around—two billion dollars!—and not think about all the amazing things that could have been done with it. These two men spent two billion dollars to fly all over the country and talk about the people who don't have jobs, the kids who don't have a quality education, the people who need food and shelter. You know what would have helped those people? Two billion fucking dollars.

UPDATE: Beloved Slog tipper Rob sent along this truly depressing factoid from NPR, too:

Goldstein figures that there are about 800,000 truly undecided voters in the battleground states; factor in a total of $1 billion in ads — and that means campaigns are spending about $1,000 per persuadable voter.


Comments (30) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Heck, just ask the ruling family in China. The average wealth of each member of the Premier's family is a Billion US dollars.

Which they got ... legally. If you believe in unicorns. Just like Berlesconi.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Yeah but its not public money it would be up to private citizens to give that money to the less fortunate.
Posted by Seattle14 on October 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Hear, hear.
Posted by rca on October 26, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this
That's why I'm conflicted about giving to political causes. On the one hand, it's my $50 and I know it would be better spent if I give it to the food bank. On the other hand, I think that if I don't give it to Obama, Romney might win and there might not be any food banks (or Planned Parenthood, or same sex marriage) in 2013.

It's a toughie.
Posted by originalcinner on October 26, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
matt 5
I fantasize about:

A multiparty system where gaining a majority in the legislature requires a coalition and compromise.

More than 2 viable parties.

Term limits on Congress.

A 4-week primary campaign that culminates in a national primary on a single date. No outside funds are allowed, and an even allotment of money is provided to each candidate. If you run out, you can't spend any more.

Followed by a 4 week general election with, again, more than 2 parties, determined by popular vote, no electoral college.
Posted by matt on October 26, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
long-time reader 6
The Times made a grammatical error which you repeated: They each raised a billion, separately. If they "both" did, that would mean collectively they raised a billion, maybe 500 million each.

(This is a pet peeve of mine, in case it's not obvious.)
Posted by long-time reader on October 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Video production companies, TV stations, Websites (like this one), Radio, Printers, Campaign workers, etc. All these people are part of this quadrennial economic stimulus and are making a living off of it. Yeah, it's not going to food banks directly, but the people working on campaigns and campaign related stuff are getting that two billion. It's not like they're just stacking it in piles and setting it on fire.
Posted by SPG on October 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
Hell, more than that is stolen from medicare every year.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 26, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 9
Paul, shouldn't you be posting about how we should be giving to Obama again? Seems you haven't done that in a week or so.

That said, all of my $$ for the election season I was going to donate to when to approving R-74 and a little to Inslee
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
@8 by Big Pharma?

Nah, the Pres got rid of that loophole.

Just ask Comrade Ryan, he was upset that he couldn't get rich off kickbacks from that.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 26, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 11
I came to say what @7 said.

That money goes to people (probably a lot of middle class workers) who need it for everyday stuff too.

I despise the income disparity here, so it gives me a bit of comfort knowing that people like Sheldon Adelson are donating their millions to Romney's campaign, where it eventually ends up in the pockets of regular workers. Better there than in some offshore tax haven.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 12
I agree that the amounts raised are ridiculous, but the money doesn't magically disappear-presumably it even creates some (very temporary) jobs, including one that a friend of mine took during the 2008 campaign.

Unfortunately the "consulting" and media buys that make up most of the spending probably doesn't trickle down (ugh) that far:…
Posted by Unregistered User on October 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
@4 Yeah. If certain big donors weren't buying extra votes with their big money, there wouldn't be as many charitable needs--unless you count the poor, poor gaybashing churches.
Posted by Prettybetsy on October 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 14
@4 Go find a homeless person that doesn't plan to vote. Offer him $50 in food if he'll vote for your candidates.

Wait, is that legal? If so, it would be much more effective, and you end up feeding someone.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on October 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 15
@6 - But Romney hasn't yet raised a billion. The headline makes some sense, even if it's a little confusing. It might make more sense to say they have collectively raised an average of one billion.
Posted by MacCrocodile on October 26, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
The Times story is also horribly written to create a false equivalence between campaign donations (capped at $2500 per donor per cycle) and donations to the national party (capped at $35000 a few years ago, maybe higher now). Most of Obama's money came by the former route, most of Romney's by the latter.
Posted by Warren Terra on October 26, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 17
a billion here a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money.
Posted by scary tyler moore on October 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
biffp 18
You're not paying attention if this depresses you. Corporations give a token for campaigns. The real money is spent lobbying.
Posted by biffp on October 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
Video games are a $20 billion dollar industry. Chewing gum is also $20 billion. Porn is at least that much. Pet food? Close to $50 billion in the US alone. That doesn't even count chew toys and doggie sweaters and vet bills.

The amount spent choosing the next President is a small fraction of what we piss away on stupid shit.

These kinds of math errors plague all reporting at The Stranger. There's nobody on staff who can deal with big numbers.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on October 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 20
@7 It's not like they're just stacking it in piles and setting it on fire.
Agreed. Although the amount of jet fuel used in the campaign comes close to cash incineration.
Posted by Sir Vic on October 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 21
@10 Fraud.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Mike O'Brien read this post and now has a single tear running down his cheek.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 26, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
The travesty to me isn't so much the wastefulness of spending on campaigns as the bald fact that a candidate who is forced to raise a billion dollars in order to be competitive is going to owe a lot of favors once he gets elected.
Posted by Proteus on October 26, 2012 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Calculating dollars per undecided voter is fun, but not that meaningful. Campaigns also have to turn out the base, and right now it seems to me that the candidates are spending more effort talking to their own than persuading the neutrals or opposed voters.
Posted by Asbel on October 26, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 25
Repudiate this campaign finance arms race: vote third party.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 26
Bill Moyers at Huffington Post

Money in Politics: Where is the Outrage?

No serious proposal to take the money out of politics, or even reduce its tightening grip on the body politic, will emerge from Tampa or Charlotte, so the sounds of celebration and merriment are merely prelude to a funeral cortege for America as a shared experience. A radical minority of the superrich has gained ascendency over politics, buying the policies, laws, tax breaks, subsidies, and rules that consolidate a permanent state of vast inequality by which they can further help themselves to America's wealth and resources.

For the ultimate absurdity of money's role, we must look to another group of happy billionaires, the corporate owners of the television stations which reap handsome profits for selling the public's airwaves to undisclosed buyers (also known as campaign contributors) who pollute the political atmosphere with millions of dollars spent on toxic ads designed to keep voters angry, dumb, or both. Every proposal is shot down or undermined that would make it a duty for those stations to devote free air time for public purposes in order to earn the licenses that they treat as permits to get rich. In one of the great perversions of the Constitution foisted on its subjects by their overlords, the public airwaves where free speech should reign have become private enclosures to which access must be bought. Free? It's about as free as Tiffany pearls.

Money rules. And in the foul air democracy chokes and gasps, the middle class falls behind, and the poor sink from sight as political donations determine the course and speech of policies that could make the difference in the lives of ordinary people struggling in a dog-eat-dog world.

The Devil must grin at such a sorry state of affairs and at the wicked Catch-22 at its core. To fight the power of private money, it is first necessary to get elected. To get elected it is necessary to raise astronomical amounts of private money from people who expect obedience in return. "That's some catch," says Yossarian to Doc Daneeka, and Doc agrees: "It's the best there is."

Where is the outrage at this corruption? Partly smoothed away with the violence, banality, and tawdry fare served up by a corporate media with every regard for the public's thirst for distractions and none for its need to know. Sacrificed to the ethos of entertainment, political news -- instead of getting us as close as possible to the verifiable truth -- has been reduced to a pablum of so-called objective analysis which gives equal time to polemicists spouting their party's talking points.

Does this money really matter? Do owls and bats fly by night? Needed reforms are dead on arrival on the floor of Senate and House. Banking regulations with teeth? Mortgage relief? Non-starters when the banks' lobbyists virtually own Washington and the President of the United States tells Wall Street financiers he is all that stands between them and the pitchforks of an angry mob. Action on global warming? Not while the fossil fuel industries and corporate-back climate deniers have their powerful say in the matter. Cutting bloated military expenditures? Uh-uh, when it means facing a barrage of scare stories about weakening our defenses against terrorism. Spend money on modernizing our rail system or creating more public transportation in our auto-choked city streets? What heavy artillery the auto, gasoline and highway construction lobbies would rain down on any such proposal.

All of which would make a Progressive Rip Van Winkle shake his head in disbelief and grind his teeth in fury. "Where is the passion we shared for driving money from politics?" he would ask.
Where indeed? Not on the floor of either of these conventions. You are unlikely to hear the name of Theodore Roosevelt praised by Republicans or of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by the Democrats, except in perfunctory terms (It was FDR, after all, who said he feared government by money as much as government by the mob.)

Each party will sing the obligatory hosannas to the middle class, give the silent treatment to the working poor, and bellow forth the platitudes of America's "spirit of enterprise and innovation" that will restore our robust economy and world leadership. If the stagnant recovery and sufferings of the unemployed and underemployed get any mention, it will be to blame them on the other party. As for taking on the predatory rich, forget it.

Our advice: Learn something from the emptiness of what you see and hear -- and if it doesn't make you mad as hell and ready to fight back against the Money Power, we are all in real trouble.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 27
Bill Moyers examines these issues every week on Moyers & Company.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 26, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
It's too bad they can't just give that money directly to those voters.
Posted by ishf on October 26, 2012 at 6:24 PM · Report this
I imagine raising a billion dollars as the Obama campaign has done... with many more smaller donors... is a lot harder, and more difficult for a generic candidate to reproduce.

My hope is that those billionaires who have entered the fray with umpteenth millions for Super PACs, mostly toward the Republican side, will see their candidate fail, conclude it wasn't worth all that money in the first place, and thus we'll see a backslide away from the completely ludicrous levels of campaign spending and toward the just absolutely ridiculous levels of spending.

More specifically, I want to Sheldon Adelson's waste an ass-load of money for nothing. It might be pocket change to him, but fuck him anyway.

A boy can dream, can't he?
Posted by madcap on October 26, 2012 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 30
So....did anyone read this and think, "If they want to buy my vote, I wish the fu-kers would just cut me a check instead of blowing it on dumb campaign ads."....or was that just me?
Posted by Y.F. Redux on October 28, 2012 at 7:25 AM · Report this

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