The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 19, 2013

Watching the money flow in politics

Friday, July 19, 2013 — RALEIGH – Those who defend the insane amounts of money involved in running for political office typically do so on three fronts.

First, they note that spending is far from an absolute predicator of electoral success, that winners sometimes spend less than their opponents and losers sometimes more. In other words – despite six or even seven-figure legislative races, and eight-figure gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races – nobody is buying elections.

Next, in defense of the gobs of money, they will say that $1 million or $10 million is not much money when legislators and governors make decisions affecting a $20 billion enterprise called state government, not to mention decisions affecting a larger private-sector economy.

Finally, they will discuss how the money chase is just another reflection of a candidate’s public support. So someone with solid credentials can raise money and those without cannot.

All of those points are arguable.

But the arguments would skip over the larger problems regarding money in politics.

The biggest of those problems is not what money does to the electoral process. It is what it does to the candidates once they are elected.

Fifty years ago, Jesse Unruh, speaker of the California State Assembly, made a comment that if you couldn’t eat and drink from the lobbyists trough, and then vote against their interests, politics shouldn’t be your gig.

Those thoughts appear naive or disingenuous today.

The recent debate over tax reform in North Carolina proves the point.

The state Senate’s primary architect of tax reform, Bob Rucho, rushed headlong into putting together a comprehensive tax reform plan that pretty obviously was going to gore plenty of the business interest groups in the state.

He acknowledged that his plan, by getting rid of a lot of tax exemptions even as he proposed eliminating corporate income taxes, would anger some of those groups.

“Members of the audience, would you just raise your hands if you’re lobbyists,” Rucho said at a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Members of the committee, I just want you to remember, those are the folks that are in the process of trying to be sure that this tax system stays complicated and loopholes are maintained.”

And what eventually happened?

His fellow Republican senators pulled the plug on his plan, producing a Christmas-in-July tax cut bill instead.

In the end, they weren’t prepared to risk losing all that campaign cash that flows from those same interest groups.

Of course, a lot of politicians argue that their decisions aren’t affected by the money. Who would want to admit it?

A lot of non-politicians look at those denials and laugh. They decide that they don’t want to live in such a world, and so leave the nasty business of politics to others.

And so, the other effect of the massive amounts of money invading politics is that more and more good people don’t run, and political leadership suffers as a result.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 11, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 10, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content