Outcomes Foredordained

In One Way, an Equal Pox on Both Houses ($$$)

In a $3 billion campaign, policy outcomes are foreordained to be pretty bad.

I'm over in dear old Morgantown right now, participating in a meeting of the journalism school alumni committee of which I am a member. Putting aside the fact that I'm writing this blog post right now in the middle of the meeting, it's actually a working meeting, so I won't have a lot of time for posting today, although I do think I'll slap up some posts over the weekend, as these are crucial days.

As I was driving over this morning, I heard on the radio that Obama has raised a billion dollars, and Romney is close. I've read elsewhere that if you throw everything into the mix, this might end up being a $6 billion election.

Both campaigns love to say things like "86 percent of our contributions are under $250," That's certainly true. But if you do the math, or even just stop and think about it for five minutes, it's kind of irrelevant, because it takes quite a few $250 donations to equal one $5 million check to the DNC or RNC. So while it sounds nice, it certainly doesn't diminish the influence of the big donors, most of whom don't contribute out of general enthusiasm, but because they want something.

Consider this little factoid about Super-Pacs I came across: .000063 (yep, four zeroes) of Americans account for 80 percent of all Super-PAC giving. Also: Only about one-quarter of 1 percent of the population m akes donations of $200 or more.

By definition, a $2 billion or $3 billion presidential race financed by people like this foreordains many policy outcomes no matter who wins. They're obviously foreordained to be reactionary if Romney wins. If Obama wins, there's at least a sporting chance on certain issues that middle-class and working-class people won't get screwed.

And why does that chance exist? Well, partly because some rich benefactors are liberal and have some liberal interests, like on environment. But mostly it's unions. I have my criticisms of public-employee unions, which I've made, but it's a fact that their election spending, meager as it is in comparison to corporate money, is the main force that pushes Democrats to pursue progressive economic outcomes (to the extent that they do) once they're in office.

We have to change this system someday. The lobbying money problem is even worse. Go read Hacker and Pierson.

That's probably it for today. And Lord, what an ass Sununu is.