If different campaigns and Super PACs are to be believed, a billion dollars of outside money is going to be spent in this cycle just to help elect Republicans according to Politico.
Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations.
That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit.
You should read the whole article if you want all the gory details of where all this outside money is coming from. The important point, though, is that we have a serious problem with the corrupting influence of money in our politics. We have always had problems with this issue, but since the Citizens United ruling, it has grown to levels not seen since the Gilded Age and could really hurt our country.
Already, Congress is most responsive to the opinions of the richest Americans. This dynamic is only likely to grow worse when the bulk of all political spending can theoretically be funded by only a handful of super rich individuals.
Democrats had a big opportunity to do something real about campaign finance reform in 2010 after the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United, but they completely failed to act, partly because they thought they would benefit. That is the problem with our system. The people with the power to improve it only got into power because they are skilled at exploiting the broken system, so they have little incentive to try to change.
I can only hope the disgusting amount of outside money about to be spent in this election will create a popular outcry for some far reaching reforms, but it is a thin hope. Get ready for an era when politicians live in constant fear that if they do something a particular industry or very small group of wealthy people doesn’t like, those rich people could easily drop tens of millions on ads to try to end their career.