EVER SMALLER PLANET

In five or ten years, one company hopes, we may start flying six times faster.  New York to New Delhi in 4 hours.  Totally cool.

MONEY

Even as we got poorer this past week, if we own stocks, the cost of being a “max-out” political donor seems to have gone up.  Again.

In return for not shutting down the government, the Republican Party has required a tenfold increase in the limit any citizen (or Green Card holder) may give the Republican National Committee.

That’s $324,200 a year, up from $32,400.

Which, because of the “McCutcheon” decision rendered by the Republican Supreme Court (the Court that gave us President George W. Bush who then added Justices Roberts and Alito, making it even more reliably Republican), can now be $324,000 to each of the three Republican Committees — $972,000 a year — with your spouse matching that for a further $972,000.  So $1,944,000 per couple for the 2015-2016 cycle now beginning.

Plus $10,000 a year to each of the 50 state Republican parties — another $2 million per couple per cycle.

Plus $10,400 per couple to each of 535 House and Senate candidates — another $5,564,000.

Except that at least some of these federal limits may be notched up a bit early next year, as the Federal Election Commission adjusts them for inflation.  So figure about $10 million all in for you and your spouse to federally max for the 2015-2016 cycle (up from $123,200 this last cycle).

On top of which there’s the essentially unlimited cash people can contribute to non-federal state and local races and non-federal committees . . . and given anonymously to various committees with misleading names.

Of course, all this applies to Democratic donors, candidates, and committees as well — with two differences.  First, there are more ultra-wealthy Republicans than ultra-wealthy Democrats.  Second, many of the ultra-wealthy Democrats think all this is a horrible distortion of democracy and so refuse to participate; let alone to the extent, or as gleefully, as some Republicans have.

To me, the Citizens United decision . . . followed by the McCutcheon decision . . . and now this tenfold increase in giving limits . . . are cause for dismay, as they shift yet more political power to the already powerful . . . even as widening inequality threatens our economic engine and social fabric.

Dismay — but not despair, because there are still millions of Democrats, rich and poor, more than capable, collectively, of funding the basics required to win.

It all comes down to whether people who would like to see the Democratic agenda enacted take the trouble to vote:

People who’d like to see America’s infrastructure revitalized and health insurance remain available even to those who might develop a preexisting condition . . . people who’d like to see the bipartisan immigration bill made law and federal student loans made refinanceable . . . people who’d like to see the minimum wage hiked (if only because economists predict it will improve the economy for the rest of us) and universal background checks required for gun purchasers . . . and climate change addressed . . . and voting made more convenient not less.  People pleased to have a Credit Card Bill of Rights and a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and Plan B sold over the counter to enhance reproductive choice and reduce abortion.

The list goes on — including campaign finance reform. Not shifting more power to multi-billionaires, as the Republicans insisted be done Saturday in return for not shutting down our government.

 

 

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