Free Markets, Free People
Digby at Hullabaloo is just, well, incensed. It’s about those, those … SuperPacs. It’s about those, those … rich … trying to buy elections.
Digby now wonders “how anyone can call this democracy anymore.”
And the rant, based on a Mother Jones article, has charts and everything.
I certainly feel a new found faith in democracy knowing that this handful of billionaires are finally allowed to have the same influence over our government that I do.
And for all this cash they’re spending, it’s chump change to them.They are that rich.
One of the charts is entitled “The top five-dark money nonprofit groups have spent $53 million on ads. They disclosed just $420,920, or 0.0079%.”
Ye gods, you say. Those rascally Republicans. Trying to buy an election.
Of course Digby tries to sell this, via implication, as some sort of recent GOP innovation. You know something along the line that SuperPacs are, essentially, an invention of the right and best used by the right, and as noted in the Hullabaloo post, being set up for future use. (cue scary music!)
Alarmingly missing from Digby’s hyperventilating about people that are “that rich”, however, is a leftist faction that’s been doing this better and longer for years and years.
That’s right, unions perfected this long ago. And you, and obviously Digby, might be a bit surprised what that means in dollars and cents. Let me just put it this way, it makes $53 million seem like a drop in the bucket:
The usual measure of unions’ clout encompasses chiefly what they spend supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions’ own coffers.
These kinds of spending, which unions report to the Federal Election Commission and to Congress, totaled $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The unions’ reports to the Labor Department capture an additional $3.3 billion that unions spent over the same period on political activity.
$4.4 billion? $4.4 billion since 2005? Makes those spending $53 million seem like pikers doesn’t it? And, of course, we know that union political activity has been going on well before 2005, don’t we?
But nary a mention, except in passing in an excerpt in the post, of that sort of spending by union or an exclamation about $4.4 billion seeming like “chump change” to them, they’re “that rich”.
But then, doing that would kill the meme in its tracks wouldn’t it?
If you’re not very confident in government competence to begin with, this story should add fuel to that fire:
Investigators say the Internal Revenue Service may have delivered more than $5 billion in refund checks to identity thieves who filed fraudulent tax returns for 2011.
They estimate that another $21 billion could make its way to ID thieves’ pockets over the next five years.
$5 billion. $21 billion in 5 years if the ID thieves can’t be rooted out prior to sending the checks.
Surely they have a way of doing that. There have to be simple checks like, oh, I don’t know, an address getting more than one return hoisting a red flag maybe? Or maybe a single bank account receiving more than one return?
For example, investigators found one single address in Michigan that was used to file 2,137 separate tax returns seeking a total of more $3.3 million in refunds. In other cases, hundreds of refunds were deposited into the same bank account.
Guess not. Guess these new fangled computers and programming security checks are just beyond them (such a system would likely cost much less than $5 billion, huh?).
IRS incompetence costs you $5 billion. Add that to the $60 billion a year in Medicare waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re talking real money. And then just imagine all the other waste, fraud and abuse throughout the rest of the federal government and it isn’t at all difficult to understand why we constantly find ourselves in a deficit situation. Or why government, in the form of the Obama administration is raising taxes on everyone (see ObamaCare and the new Medicare tax) and wanting to raise them on the “rich” segment of the society.
So it can give it away to ID thieves and Medicare fraudsters, among other grifters.
[HT: Jamie Dodge]