Biden: Conservative groups spending $200 billion on midterm elections
posted at 12:40 pm on October 25, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Remember, Barack Obama says that choosing Joe Biden to be one heartbeat away from the presidency is “the single best decision I have made.” At least Obama applied the right scale in his statement. Biden told Bloomberg News that Democrats would definitely hold the Senate and likely keep the House despite the “$200 billion” conservative groups have spent in the midterm elections:
Bloomberg News tried rescuing Biden from himself in their report:
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Democrats will retain control of the Senate while he worries that hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous donations to campaign groups backing Republicans could cost his party its House majority.
That isn’t what Biden said, however. Isn’t a news organization supposed to report the news rather than act as a translator for math-challenged officeholders? The New York Times blog The Caucus does better:
In an interview with Al Hunt of Bloomberg News scheduled to be shown Friday night, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. commented on the need for disclosure when corporate interests contribute to political groups.
“I was amazed at the amount of money, this $200 billion of money that is — where there’s no accountability,” he said. “When I say accountability, we don’t know where it’s coming from. There’s no disclosure, so the folks watching the ad can’t make a judgment based upon motive when you say it’s paid for by so-and-so.”
Mr. Biden clearly meant “million” with an “M,” not “billion” with a “B.”
But did he?
But his tongue slipped again a moment later. “So it really — I’ve never seen this before, so the only caveat I’d put in terms of the House is how much impact this $200 billion are going to mean.”
Million, billion, trillion … nothing this administration has done in two years demonstrates that they know the difference anyway.
Steve Chapman at Reason writes that the entire “foreign money” and corporate speech argument is hogwash anyway:
But the president is right in believing that if people reject the agenda of the corporations that are spending money in this election, they can vote against it—and win. Americans are about as likely to vote for every candidate a corporation favors as they are to buy every product a corporation advertises.
It’s not as though Mammoth Amalgamated Corp. or China World Takeover Inc. is going out and paying citizens to cast Republican ballots. It’s not even as though corporations, foreign or domestic, are trying to buy off politicians with direct campaign contributions—which remain illegal.
All they can do is finance broadcast spots or newspaper ads with messages intended to sway voters. As more than half of all political candidates discover every election year, such efforts often fail. Unless the ads make a case that is persuasive and believable to a majority of voters, they are wasted.
Most corporate executives seem to understand as much and choose not to bother. When the Supreme Court decision came down, critics predicted a tidal wave of corporate spending on elections. What they overlooked is that in about half the states, such outlays were already allowed, without that dire consequence.
All the evidence indicates that corporate electioneering makes no difference in election outcomes or legislation. John Coleman, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, examined the period 2000-2008 and found that states permitting such spending were no more likely to have Republican legislatures, business-friendly regulatory policies, or low business costs.
As for the impact of outside groups in this election, perhaps Joe Biden should take a look at this chart:
The biggest outside-group spending in this election has come from government-employee unions, not the conservative groups, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. They have spent $171 million, compared to the combined total of the top two conservatives groups, which comes to $142 million. Unlike the conservative groups, the unions want more than hundreds of billions in extra government spending, they want trillions of government spending and expansion of the public sector. Those are the numbers which worry Americans.