What Do You Get For A Billion Bucks?

Veteran Washington producer Ward Sloane, using all his fingers and toes, has done some campaign arithmatic. He sent us the following dispatch this morning. - Ed.

Here's an interesting factoid about the campaign season. Combined, the national Republican and Democratic parties have raised over 1 billion dollars.

To be exact, through the end of September 2006, they have raised $1,005,208,381 dollars. Given that we just passed the 300,000,000 million population mark, that means the parties have raised a little over 3 dollars for every man, woman and child in America.

I can't even think about this, it's too hard. And this is after campaign finance reform – which means its "hard money" that is, money that's hard to raise because it's got to come in small amounts from individuals and political action committees. It does not include unlimited amounts of money, or "soft money" which used by legal and was given to the parties by corporations or labor unions.

On one hand, I guess it's a good sign that there are enough people out there who are willing to collectively give up one billion dollars. But the other hand says this is too much money for such a poor return.

How is it possible to raise so much money in the current political climate? These billion dollars have been raised just for the upcoming Congressional elections (some of the money is for governors, but not much of it).

Think about it. The one thing Congress does well – and on a bi-partisan basis – is vote themselves periodic pay raises. It has also allowed the Executive branch to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, with no oversight and no consequences.

Oh, and this billion dollars? It does not include the money all of the candidates have raised for their own campaign. I can't even begin to add all that up; but the top ten money raisers in the Senate have collectively raised $285,832,000.

Why do Americans give so much for so little?