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A better use for big campaign war chests – helping the needy

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Enough already.

We spent the last 4 years watching the national economy stagger its way back from a knee-bending whack tied to under-regulated banking and mortgage industries.

Yet, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had, by September, raised almost $2 billion to run for office. That’s a lot of money spent on back-patting and name-calling, and it crossed party lines almost equally: As of September, The New York Times has reported, Obama had raised $934 million and Romney took in $882 million.

What if that money had been pledged to charity or spent making life better for less-fortunate Americans? How far could $2 billion go in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, caring for our elderly?

Their total is half the national annual budget for the American Red Cross. It’s 10 percent of the estimated property damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

At the state level, in the 48th state Senate race, Macoupin County Board Chairman Andy Manar and Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy were close to having the most expensive non-federal race in Illinois, at $2 million.

It was only too clear last week that enormous sums of money do not need to be spent on campaigning. When both presidential campaigns suspended their work because of Hurricane Sandy, life went on. The sun came up.

You had to be under a rock for the last month to have avoided the television and radio ads, postal mailers, emails, tweets and posts aimed at swaying undecided voters.

So, here’s our proposal: Limit campaign spending to a certain amount with 1 percent of anything over that amount being shared with your state government. If a presidential candidate spends $20 million to campaign in Illinois, $200,000 has to go to Springfield for the state’s general fund.

Presidential campaigning – and all campaigning, for that matter – is overwrought, egotistical game-playing when our time and money, and theirs, can be put to better use.

Think of it as pay to play. Only this time, the people win.

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