Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Big Money in American Politics

Interesting feature in the Times on the 158 families who have given $176 million to presidential candidates, half the money raised so far in this cycle.
These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite. Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel.

But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs. While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would allow others to prosper, too.
According to the Times, 119 of the donors are self-made, and only 37 inherited their money.

One fascinating detail is that the three families that have given the most are all supporting Ted Cruz. This is one reason why the Republican Party establishment is having trouble controlling this year's race; there are so many cranky billionaires in the country who could fund a campaign all by themselves under the new rules that outsiders like Cruz can raise all the money they need without going through the usual channels. This is also one of the reasons that the House leadership can't control their far right members; those people have their own fund-raising networks among right wing businessmen, and they have no need of the party establishment.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Here's a crazy idea - why don't we regulate campaign spending? Pick an amount considered ample enough to run a campaign, and set that as the maximum cap on expenditure. Nutty idea, huh?

Heck, let's go even crazier! Let's just outright level the playing field. Prohibit private campaign spending entirely, and replace it with a system where the government gives every major qualifying party / candidate an equal sized stipend - say, $X million. (We can adjust it later as necessary.)

Now everyone starts off on equal footing, and can spend their stipend how they wish, meaning no one has an unfair wealth advantage being leveraged into votes. Because our society doesn't abide by things like letting people buy votes, right?