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Massive Amounts of Election Dollars

February 22nd, 2008 No comments

Keeping with the theme of things that amaze and astound me, I came across an article on my BlackJack today called "Clinton campaign spending worries supporters." The article talked about how supporters of the Clinton presidential campaign are concerned that the campaign spending patterns might have "hamstrung her competitiveness against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois." The story went on to talk about some figures that absolutely blew me away as I thought about them:

Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.

That’s a lot of money by any standards, and enough cause for alarm if you think about it long enough. But the article goes on to outline some more facts about spending by the top candidates:

The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.

Howard Wolfson, the communications director and a senior member of the advertising team, earned nearly $267,000 in January. His total, including the campaign’s debt to him, tops $730,000.

The advertising firm owned by Mandy Grunwald, the longtime media strategist for both Mrs. Clinton and Bill Clinton, the former president, has collected $2.3 million in fees and expenses for production costs, and is still owed another $240,000.

Finally came this section, which really took me aback:

Mrs. Clinton came into January with a cash advantage over Mr. Obama, with about $19 million available for the primary, compared with about $13 million for him. She wound up spending at roughly the same rate as Mr. Obama, about a million dollars a day, but because she performed dismally compared to him in raising money, she ended the month essentially in the red and was forced to lend her campaign $5 million, while he had $19 million for the coming contests.

Notice the highlighted portion…"about a million dollars a day." That’s astronomical and just plain sick. A million dollars a day being spent by more than one candidate to garner delegate votes. And we haven’t even reached the election yet.

I looked on wikipedia what the median household income in the United States (2006) is, and it comes out to slightly over $48,000 a year. It would take the average wage earner 20 years to make how much these campaigns spend in a single day. Does anybody else find that just incredibly gross? I can only imagine the good that this money could do for people in this country if applied to things like food and clothing for the poor, support for homeless, support for groups like orphans and sick children, and any of a number of social programs.

How amazing would it be if the country could come together and amass this much wealth to help the social issues facing our society. We can only dream.

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