In 2012, the GOP Will Prove Citizens United a Disaster for Democracy.
It’s not that corporate entities and special interest groups never spent money on presidential elections before. It’s just that they had to circumvent the system in order to get it done. Not anymore. Now corporate America is out of the closet, so to speak, and is free to spend at will. It’s time for a moment of silence for the passing of Democracy, because the GOP is going to prove just what a disaster the Citizens United ruling is for our country.
It has recently come to light that GOP Super PACs – under the guidance of none other than the evil trifecta of Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – intend to spend a whopping $1 billion to put Mitt Romney in the White House come November. Of the total, it is expected that the Koch Brothers will put up about $400 million to build a sophisticated network of operations in what are likely to be considered key states. Of course, Super PACs are used on both sides of the aisle. It’s just that the $100 million projected to be raised in support of Barack Obama by the Priorities USA Action Super PAC seems, well, a little bit anemic to be quite honest.
Outrageous amounts of money were spent by Super PACs during the GOP primary season. That’s because these groups can raise unlimited amounts of cash and replenish their coffers more easily than candidate committees, which are limited to $2,500 per donor during the primaries. To show you the order of magnitude difference between the two, Restore Our Future, a Romney Super PAC, aired ads 2,098 times in Alabama during the primaries, while Romney’s campaign only ran 279 spots. Overall, through March 2012 the Romney campaign spent $16.7 million on TV advertising, while ROF spent $33.2 million. In a recent article I wrote for Veracity Stew, I outlined the right-wing billionaire donors to Mitt Romney and how much they’ve already spent during primary season. You can bet they’ll be opening their wallets even wider when it comes down to the final show.
There’s no question that the almighty dollar was instrumental in Scott Walker’s recall win (although I truly think there were other factors in play). Walker outspent Tom Barrett by a margin of 7 to 1. Wisconsin state law allowed Walker to raise unlimited amounts of money very early on, which means that he was hammering home his message before the recall effort took shape. Walker raised a total of $30.5 million, with about 66% coming from out of state donors. Barrett raised a mere $3.9 million. With that kind of differential, it doesn’t much matter where Barrett’s money came from. Mother Jones put together an amazing graphic that outlines some of the biggest donations to Scott Walker:
Many of them are members of – wait for it – the Koch Brothers million dollar donor club. In addition, the Koch’s Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity, spent $10 million back in January convincing people in Wisconsin that Walker’s policies were working. These guys make no bones about buying elections, and now it’s all legal.
The GOP has a master plan and it doesn’t just include the White House. They want the whole enchilada. Here’s how the GOP money is likely to break down in the race for the White House and beyond:
- Groups under the spell of Charles and David Koch will spend the most, split between issue and political advocacy. It will be somewhere in the range of $400 million.
- Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) will spend two-thirds of its money on advocacy relative to the presidential race.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will focus on congressional races, raising about $100 million. However, it will spend significant money attacking Obama’s health care plan and that can only benefit Romney.
- The YG Action Fund will raise about $30 million. In case you’re interested, the “YG” refers to “young guns” Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Oh brother.
- The American Action Network (chaired by former senator Norm Coleman) raised $30 million for congressional runs in 2010. It is expected to match that in 2012.
- The Congressional Leadership Fund, supported by Speaker John Boehner and other House GOP leaders, has reportedly already raised $5 million.
You can bet your life that the Democrats will be operating at a fiscal disadvantage moving into the home stretch. I know that it’s still early, but a new group of national polls now show Obama trailing Mitt Romney. Free-market billionaires and corporations will be pouring money into the GOP coffers because Barack Obama is viewed as openly hostile to capitalism.
For rational Americans, that is a scary thought.