Colum: Obama Should Bail Out Economy With Campaign Money

This story was written by Stuart Baimel, The Stanford Daily


Sen. Barack Obama has again surpassed all fundraising expectations and raised $150 million in the month of September, doubling his own fundraising record of $66 million set the month before. His fundraising over the past two months is more than almost any presidential candidate ever.

John McCain, for his part, fundraised nothing, as he is limited to spending $84 million under public financing rules. His campaign -- in violation of the spirit of McCains own campaign-finance legislation -- is directing fundraisers to the Republican National Committee, which continues to pull in huge amounts of money and spend it on McCains behalf.

Despite the fact that Obama has much more money than seems necessary, his campaign continues to ask for money. His campaign manager David Plouffe sent out an email yesterday to supporters announcing how much the campaign had raised.

Its not too late to own a piece of this campaign, Plouffe wrote. In fact, your support is needed more urgently now than ever before. Watch the video and make a donation today. Despite fundraising $5 million per daylast month, the campaign still sends out daily emails asking for money, as if the campaign needs it.

I can imagine what Obama does with all the money he hasnt spent: Overworked Obama staffers are told to take a break in the Vault and dive into the campaign vault, where they roll around in Benjamins sent in by college professors, Scarlett Johansson and Oprah fans -- the jobs best perk for sure.

Given that Obama is already outspending McCain four-to-one in most swing states, its not entirely clear how much more money Obama needs to defeat McCain, and whether additional dollars now will actually lead to additional votes. Obamas huge financial advantage has caused him problems before. When fighting Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, he outspent her three-to-one, but still lost the state by 10 points. A similar result happened in Ohio. Its hard to imagine that Obama could drop another $100 million he has not already committed in the next three weeks and not waste the vast majority of it.

TV advertisements, to which most campaign funds are directed, certainly exhibit the principle of diminishing returns. If voters have seen nine TV ads in the span of an hour, it is unlikely that the tenth will change their minds. Obama raised record amounts in the primaries which enabled him to outlast Clinton, but also spent record amounts, barely defeating the greatly outspent and bankrupt Clinton in the end. Obamas financial record has inspired conservative critics to snarkily observe that Obamas spending record compares to how tax-and-spend liberals use government money: unwisely and in great amounts.

Theres certainly a better use for all the money Obama has raised. Its clear that in the final month of the election, Obama is going to raise something like $150 bajillion and not have any real use for it. Rather than going toward the Obama 2012 reelection campaign or funding exceptionally lavish inauguration parties, Obama can put this money to good use byimmediately bailing out the American economy. We need it, to be certain, with a recession looking more and more likely and the credit markets still locked up.

I can even think of a good place to start with the bailout and liquidity injections (which honestly do not sound all that appetizing): my bank account. Its grown smaller in recent months, though not necessarily due to the stock market or declining house prices. But that doesnt matter. It has grown smaller. Thats what matters. I can even think of good taglines for this: Investing in a Youth and Supporting Tomorrows Leader. Obama has no idea what to do with his embarrassment of riches. I am not yet rich. I think this sounds like something that as traction.
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