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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 8 February 2012
“One Obama adviser says Obama’s decision to openly endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect.”

The Sad Spectacle of Obama’s Super PAC

It has been said there is no high ground in American politics since any politician who claims it is likely to be gunned down by those firing from the trenches. That’s how the Obama team justifies its decision to endorse a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums for his campaign. 

I understand the White House’s concerns. Obama is a proven fundraiser – he cobbled together an unprecedented $745 million for the 2008 election and has already raised $224 million for this one. But his aides figure Romney can raise almost as much, and they fear an additional $500 million or more will be funneled to Romney by a relative handful of rich individuals and corporations through right-wing super PACS like “American Crossroads.”

The White House was surprised that super PACs outspent the GOP candidates themselves in several of the early primary contests, and noted how easily Romney’s super PAC delivered Florida to him and pushed Newt Gingrich from first-place to fourth-place in Iowa.

Romney’s friends on Wall Street and in the executive suites of the nation’s biggest corporations have the deepest pockets in America. His super PAC got $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of last year, including million-dollar checks from hedge-fund moguls, industrialists and bankers.

How many billionaires does it take to buy a presidential election? “With so much at stake” wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the Obama campaign’s blog, Obama couldn’t  “unilaterally disarm.”

But would refusing to be corrupted this way really amount to unilateral disarmament? To the contrary, I think it would have given the President a rallying cry that nearly all Americans would get behind: “More of the nation’s wealth and political power is now in the hands of fewer people and large corporations than since the era of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. I will not allow our democracy to be corrupted by this! I will fight to take back our government!”

Small donations would have flooded the Obama campaign, overwhelming Romney’s billionaire super PACs. The people would have been given a chance to be heard. 

The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground on campaign finance. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn’t go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn’t need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn’t even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.

And now he’s made a total mockery of the Court’s naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear at such events but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the Obama super PAC.

One Obama adviser says Obama’s decision to openly endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect. “Our donors get it,” the official said, adding that they now want to “go fight the other side.”

Exactly. So now a relative handful of super-rich Democrats want fight a relative handful of super-rich Republicans. And we call this a democracy. 

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.

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ABOUT Robert Reich


ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

Apologies for

Apologies for errors.

Message. Let' ALL rise up against Anti-Americanism! Thanks

some Michigan cities are at

some Michigan cities are at this momemt DENIED constitutional rights. Their vote,chosen candidates have been thwarted and REPLACED with so-called "Managers".

Shall Democracy DIE one sity/state at a time? Obviously,
Democracy IS Dead in some cities in MICHIGAN. It is time ALL America stood up against these ANTI-AMERICAN activiites.
Begionning with the GOVERNOR . Looks like Backlash .(who never forgave people's election of black governor years ago)

ANTI_American activities MUST have a remedy. Right?

Right on

Right on

Right, JP

Right, JP

Oh God no! Bankster

Oh God no! Bankster candidate no. 1 might be beaten by Bankster candidate no. 2. If that happens then... I'm sorry what would be different again? $224M raised, not a dime's worth of difference.


ahahhahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaahahahahahahahha this very well might be the most hilarious article I've seen presented on Nation of Change. Reich is a propaganda master and has been for decades. He works for the "1%" and doesn't care about the common person, it's all a joke to him.

I shouldn't have to post any facts. Everyone should know them already. Obama was owned by the bankers, his biggest donor being Goldman Sachs. As always, the multinationals and bankers play both sides. Now patent stealing, purposely infecting computers Microsoft is funding Obama.

This tactic being employed by Reich is clever; the man is intelligent albeit amoral. Make you feel that Obama is the underdog and the more moral candidate while convincing people to give him more money. A similar tactic was used by Bush1 when his people spread the rumour he was weak. An ex-Cia operative with kills on his belt, and he's weak. Yeah right, just dividing the masses by spreading disinformation while making Bush1 look sympathetic.

Left vs Right, they are all run by the same people.

I would love to see Obama

I would love to see Obama stick by his prior proclamations about keeping a pure and virginal campaign. But Obama did not dish up this golden turd- Citizens United. The high court did. And it is the high court that is most in need of reform. Alas, that reform will most certainly not be forthcoming in a romney or santorum (please google that name) administration. As it is, sheldon adelson could cut $5 mill checks from now until election day for the conservative candidate of his choice because he has that much speech,...... uhh, money. Do you know anyone like that willing to cut checks for Democratic candidates? I don't know anyone that could do that even once.

Obama is if nothing else, a pragmatist. Perhaps overmuch so. (I for one wish that he was more the idealist that we thought he might be at the beginning of his administration. Not). He realizes that he would be at a huge disadvantage, particularly among the "low information voters", (which I presume is a euphemism for people who watch fox "news"). Clearly one needs huge mountains of speech, uh........ money, to reach these people and those undecided voters, whoever they are. Conversely, it is clear that speech is not money. I have be wholly unable to get my landlord to accept my speech to cover this month's rent.

Are you going to give Obama

Are you going to give Obama enough funds to fight the super pac money that is going to be used aganist him ??? If you are then your right he would not need the super pac funds.

Obama understands that you

Obama understands that you don't come to a gun fight with a knife.

Thanks, Michael Schwartz!

Thanks, Michael Schwartz! Brief and to the point!
As long as money is (unfortunately) involved in politics here in the US, the chances have to be equally fair on all sides. But to have money being the deciding factor in tipping the scales in regards to public policy making is, to say the least, very unethical. The system needs to be changed so it can truly work for ALL people and not just those who can afford to push their issues with as much money as they can afford to 'sacrifice' -for a while- in order to win at the end, again pushing their own agendas, in this sad affair where politicians are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Agree with Reich, but admin.

Agree with Reich, but admin. may be playing a long game to do what has to be done to win 2nd. term in the hope they can get another appointment to the Court and overturn the Super Pac funding in a new ruling.

Proposal: Federal Election

Federal Election Reform of 2012

Why: to secure
Uncompromised members of the 2012/14
House and Senate and 2016 Presidency.

How: by providing
Opportunity for a broader range of candidates,
Public funds not distributed by party affiliation means
Donor identity unknown to the candidates, for
Representation of more constituents, a
New framework for solving problems, and
Voter involvement in America’s recovery.

$5.00/year IRS checkbox donations sent to revised
Federal Election Commission program or NGO provides
5% to agency for Administration and Special Elections and
Quarterly distribution to these candidates in proportion to
Registered Voters for each Congressional seat to all
U.S. Registered Voters with limited FCC free
Public Service Announcement time by commercial
Common carriers for publicly funded-only candidates.

Anyone could donate more to the agency, with
One-third of Available Funds distributed quarterly.
Executive Orders to adjust three relevant
Federal programs and identify these candidates on ballots as
"FEC-(inclination)" and we could go from party voters to
Community voters now.

Make some noise and
Vote with your money. Please.

sometimes you have to fight

sometimes you have to fight fire with fire

This strikes me as total BS.

This strikes me as total BS. The GOP would LOVE to fight Obama with one hand tied behind his back.Fight this battle with the current rules at play.You think it's bad now? Wait until President Romney is installed... or any of the other clowns. Once that happens any hope of changing or reining in is OVER!JP - Dallas

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