Friday, August 03, 2012

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

(Political cartoon by Ruben Bolling and published 8/2/12 at Daily Kos. Click on image to enlarge and then please return.)

Ruben Bolling's cartoon really nails it, doesn't it? I'm just sorry I couldn't get a larger image to load. I suggest you click on the Daily Kos link: you might have better luck in getting a larger image than I did. Keep the cartoon in mind for the rest of this post, because there really is a connection.

Because of the Citizen's United decision, campaign spending this election cycle has skyrocketed. Corporations and the wealthy are perfectly free to pour whatever they choose into SuperPACs and 501(c)4 organizations and they have done so, on both sides of the political spectrum. Open Secrets has published its latest report on campaign expenditures and have included a prediction for the totals.

The 2012 presidential and congressional elections will be the most expensive on record, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates -- though not by much. The Center predicts, based on data from 18 months of fundraising and spending, that the elections will cost $5.8 billion, an increase of 7 percent from the 2008 cost of $5.4 billion. But outside spending, which is soaring while presidential candidate spending declines, is a wild card that makes predictions tricky. ...

The presidential race by itself will cost about $2.5 billion, the Center predicts, in funds laid out by the candidates, Democratic and Republican party committees and outside spending groups. The candidates have raised about $608 million, compared with more than $1.1 billion at this point in the 2008 cycle.

The big factor in 2012 is outside money. These elections -- presidential and congressional -- are the first in which new, post-Citizens United rules will have been operative for the entire two-year campaign cycle. While outside spending groups existed in previous presidential election cycles -- Americans Coming Together, for example, on the liberal side, and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for conservatives -- that U.S. Supreme Court decision and other legal developments led to the proliferation of super PACs and the growth of other outside spending groups that don’t have to disclose their donors.

As a result, spending by outside groups will make up a far larger proportion of the total spent in the 2012 election than in previous cycles and will add up to, at a minimum, $750 million, the Center forecasts.
[Emphasis added]

For a breakdown of the donations and expenditures as of the July 21, 2012 reporting deadline, go here, but keep in mind that these figures do not include the 501(c)4 groups who are not required to file reports listing donors or expenditures. I have a hunch that the Center For Responsive Politics forecast is going to be quite low and that we are actually looking at over $3 billion in the presidential contest alone, with hundreds of millions (if not a billion) in congressional races.

So, back to the Bolling cartoon.

Businesses are sitting on a lot of cash (fish, hut repair kits, coconuts) because they claim a certain "uncertainty" over the economic future of the country. Banks, who got bailed out by us, are not loaning money to smaller companies who might actually put people back to work because of "uncertainty" over the economic future of the country. Yet there seems to be several billions of dollars available to spend freely on buying politicians to ensure that there will still be plenty of cash in the coffers for our owners.

In the mean time, the politicos already in office and who want to keep their jobs are cutting funds to such "give-aways" as food stamps for the poor so they can cut taxes even further for the 1% elite.

It kind of makes me want to scream.

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