Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Elections could be most costly in US history

Elections could be most costly in US history; By Holly Yeager; Financial Times; October 24 2006 21:00 Last updated: October 24 2006 21:00

Hat tip: Pajamas Media

Next month’s midterm elections will be the most costly congressional races in US history, with business interests contributing three-quarters of the estimated $2.6bn that will be spent, says a non-partisan research group.

In a report to be released on Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics predicted that Republican candidates, parties and advocacy groups would spend $1.4bn (€1.1bn, £746m) while Democratic interests' would spend $1.2bn.

House incumbents had so far out-raised their challengers by 7–2. Senate incumbents had a 4–1 edge over their challengers, the group said.

In most years, that fundraising prowess and the shape of congressional districts give incumbents an edge at the polls. But this year, voter dissatisfaction with Washington could prove a more powerful force in some races. Public opinion polls show Democrats poised to take control of the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate in the November 7 vote.

Spending by political action committees (PAC), which include business, organised labour and ideologically based groups, was also on track to break a record, exceeding $1bn for the first time, the group said. “PACs give as an investment,” said Sheila Krumholz, acting director of the centre. “They’re giving to make sure that doors are opened and they can pitch their legislative agenda.”

But despite the Democrats’ edge in the polls, the centre said campaign records did not yet indicate that PACs were moving away from incumbents. Instead, the 87 per cent of PAC money going to those already in office was at its highest level since 1990.

Lawyers and law firms had been the most generous industry during the 2005-06 election cycle, followed by pensioners, the real estate industry, and securities and investment firms. More broadly, the finance, insurance and real estate sector continued to dominate in political giving, with more than $183m in the 18 months since the start of 2005.

The centre’s $2.6bn estimate for this year is 18 per cent up on the total spent in 2002, before campaign finance reforms were enacted that were designed to limit the influence of large corporate and labour donors.

The top donors this cycle, based on contributions from PACs and employees, included the National Association of Realtors, Goldman Sachs, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, AT&T, the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the group said.

Comment: Can we agree that this is getting to be too much? I hope so, because we, the citizenry, are losing out considerably. Since the enactment of the 17th Amendment the influences of special interest groups, big business, and the wealthy has grown in Washington D.C. steadily while fading away from our communities, the intended repository as created by the Founders in the original Constitution. Consider the above, campaign spending is up by 18 percent since 2002, and this is with the silly campaign finance reforms.

The only way to curb this problem is to repeal the 17th Amendment. By doing so the American people would be removing a wide open super highway for special interest accessing our government; that being the U.S. Senate. This is not to say that repealing the 17th would end this influence completely, it would still be there and would most certainly transfer to the state legislators. However a major chunk of influence would be reduced in Washington and would be dispersed amongst the States.

While it’s highly likely that special interest groups would target State Legislators and would continue to mark Senators, there would be far greater scrutiny of the Senate and Senators’ action than is today. Senators basically operate out-of-sight, out-of-mind. You see them during the election, but once its over, off they go to Washington out of the state and local scrutiny for another six years. But if they were beholden to their respective State Legislators, and moreover to the people that elect the State Legislators, they would have greater answerability and we would have greater scrutiny of their actions.

Its real simple, repeal the 17th Amendment and take back the power we the people have lost.


BizzyBlog said...

The idea that out-of-state money can be accepted by a candidate running for US Senate representing an individual state is an insult to our intelligence.

Of course, repealing the 17th would solve that.

Brian Duffy said...

I agree with you concerning the out-of-state monies, however, any attempt to restrict will, as we have seen the past, perpetuate the problem, and restricts freedom of speech. I as I can conclude from your postings at BizzyBlog, you would agree that too much power resides in Washington DC. I reckon we need to transfer much of it to the States. But the problem is too few state legislators know anything about the 17th Amendment and their loss of power to the federal government.