Can My Dog Stay At Your Hotel? April 3, 2014December 27, 2016 But first . . . PLUTOCRACY With yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, the $123,200 you were planning to contribute to federal candidates and committees this 2013-2014 cycle goes from being “all you can legally do” to “chickenfeed.” The limits on giving to individual candidates or committees remain unchanged; but the aggregate limits ($48,600 to all candidates combined, per two-year election cycle; $78,600 to all committees) have been struck down. So now you can contribute $5,200 to each of 468 House and Senate candidates (more, if you back more than one primary candidate) plus any number of Presidential candidates — roughly $2.5 million per cycle . . . . . . plus $10,000 a year to the federal accounts of each of the 50 state Democratic or Republican parties, which adds another $500,000 per year, bringing you up to $3.5 million for the cycle . . . . . . plus $32,400 to each of the national committees each year (the DNC, the DCCC, the DSCC), lifting the budget to around $3.7 million for the cycle . . . . . . plus $5,000 a year to as many federal Political Action Committees as you want — the Sierra Club PAC, the Human Rights Campaign PAC, the Goldman Sachs PAC, but also the PACs federal candidates have been setting set up themselves — so maybe another $2.5 million a year, for a grand total of $8.7 million for the cycle . . . compared to $123,200 now. A sad day for democracy. Thank you, Ralph Nader, for giving us the George W. Bush corporate plutocrat Court. (I’m sorry, but if we’re going to win, we must never forget the lesson: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Effective idealists — who actually want to make the world better — take reality into account in order to make as much progress as possible toward the ideal.) As a practical matter, some donors who gave the full $123,200 may now actually give less, as there’s no obvious specific goal to stretch for. Others will give more (and I’ll be asking them to, if they haven’t maxed out to the DNC!) But the real change comes for that relative handful of truly rich, for whom $8.7 million every couple of years is chump change. Most of them care more about lowering the tax rates on rich people than, say, raising the minimum wage. There are certainly liberal billionaires; but they tend to be appalled rather than thrilled by the influence of money in politics — and by decisions like Citizens United, and, now, McCutcheon v F.E.C. — and so are much less inclined to give, even though logic suggests they should. PLUTARCH I don’t normally repeat a quote two days in a row, but in light of the above? “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” – Plutarch, Greek historian, first century AD HEALTH CARE Rich Rand: “After reading your ‘Sarcasm Is Unavoidable‘ piece, I keep wondering why more isn’t made of the removing of lifetime caps by our Democratic friends. I think this is a huge step forward.” ☞ We’ve done such a bad job selling the Affordable Care Act. (Until President Obama’s remarks Tuesday, linked to here yesterday — watch!) And the other side, frequently unfettered by the facts or a sense of fair play, has done such a good job of weakening and demonizing it. But, yes: prior to Obamacare — and unbeknownst to many of them, 105 million Americans with health insurance were subject to lifetime caps. Now, you might say that’s only a third of the country, but when you consider that another roughly 50 million each had no coverage at all or Medicare or Medicaid — 150 million with no lifetime caps because they had no private insurance policies — then that 105 million number looks to be more like “most people” with employer-provided or individually-purchased health insurance. Which only matters, of course, if you get really sick or badly injured. But isn’t that what we most want protection against? Something like 62% of the more than 1 million personal bankruptcies each year are significantly related to medical costs. In fairness, only a fraction of those involve people who’ve hit the caps — which are generally $1 million or more (often higher). But Obamacare will also help many at the low end, as well, by capping their co-pays and closing the prescription drug loophole, and — over time — bending down the cost curve from what it would otherwise be. SARCAST, IT TURNS OUT, IS A WORD I was wrong. Thanks, Stephen. Here. CAN MY DOG STAY AT YOUR HOTEL? I always get in so much trouble when I am less than fully pro-cat. Out come reader claws. But the truth cannot be denied: I am way more of a dog person. (Real dogs, not the kind that fit in handbags or appear to be stick figures or poodles.*) Some of my best friends have been golden retrievers, as long-time readers may recall. Well, hurray for dogs! Click here! *Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. Don’t kill me; I’m just being honest.