Money talks -- and lies

Sunday June 17, 2012

There are tangible benefits to the money being spent in unprecedented amounts on this year’s presidential campaign. The Obama and Romney campaigns have spent $45 million so far in Massachusetts --apparently, none of it in the Berkshires of course -- but if you are a tent supplier on Martha’s Vineyard or an offset printer in Cambridge you’re enjoying an election year windfall. Our democracy, however, is paying a severe price.

The analysis of Federal Election Com mis sion records by The Boston Globe found that more presidential campaign money has been spent in Massachusetts than in any other state, in large part be cause firms associated with Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts are working on the campaign. There is plenty more coming as this will be a record-breaking year for campaign expenditures, as is the case every four years. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision freeing corporations to make es sentially unrestricted contributions, however, means that 2012 will not just break past records, it will shatter them with numbers that were unimaginable two years ago.

David and Charles Koch, who as primary financiers of the tea party are presumably not big Romney supporters, have pledged $60 million for his campaign effort. If elected, Mr. Romney’s proposed policies would definitely boost the Koch brothers’ energy interests. Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who kept the Newt Gingrich campaign alive with ads berating Mr. Romney the businessman as a callous corporate looter of the middle class, says he will cut a $10 million check to the Rom ney campaign. So much for political principle. All this money and more will presumably end up in the Romney SuperPAC Restore Our Future, which buried Mr. Romney’s primary foes under a barrage of negative advertising.

Advertising doesn’t have to be accurate, as the broadcast media is pleased just to take the fat checks. And negative advertising works on voters. Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s political guru, knows both of these things, and his Crossroads GPS PAC has spent $10 million on a transparently inaccurate ad on the economy. It claims that federal spending has increased under President Obama when it has in fact been flat. It blames the president for escalating the deficit in unprecedented fashion, when according to the independent Cen ter on Budget and Policy Priorities, it climbed by $5 trillion under President Bush and $980 billion under President Obama.

The Supreme Court’s opening of the funding floodgates benefits the GOP as the richest Americans, like the Kochs and Mr. Adelson, donate predominantly to Republican candidates and causes, putting President Obama and Democrats at a huge disadvantage. Political pundit Ste phen Colbert suggested last week that the only way for the president to stay in the game financially would be with product placement, such as a Coca-Cola can strategically stationed at the podium during a White House speech. Mr. Colbert was joking -- sort of -- as that might be the next logical step in this money-soaked and corrupted campaign year.


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