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Monday, November 26, 2012

Arithmetic Solution Can Help the National Debt

There's an arithmetic lesson Americans could apply, advantageously, to wasteful campaign spending to win (and lose) elections. 

As an example, let's use the $6 million negative ad buy in Maine, purchased by political opponents to defeat Senator Elect Angus King.  He won the election, in spite of this ad buy.

CBS news reports:

"BRUNSWICK-Me  'King also wants to require full transparency in campaign contributions. This year, in the seven of the ten most expensive Senate races, outside groups spent more than candidates themselves. King was hit by $6 million in attack ads'."

Maine's former governor attracted $6 million in outside the state political action groups, led by Republican strategist Karl Rove, to defeat him.  

A tongue in cheek rebuttal, King spoke for himself with an image of Godzilla on a TV monitor. 

King, an independent, said his opponents tried to portray him as a monster in the race for November's Senate general election.

King tells Mainer's, "They (negative ad creators) may think we were born at night up here (in Maine), but it wasn't last night!".

Maine voters weren't swayed by the shabby negative ads produced by outside groups.  As a matter of fact, regardless of political party, the ads served a collateral purpose of unifying citizens against such wasteful political spending. 

In Maine, a state with only about 1.4 million people, a $6 million dollar investment could create hundreds of new jobs and solve a myriad of non-profit budget problems. Instead, this ad buy failed to defeat the popular former Maine governor.  Elections are still about candidates, regardless of how much money is spent.

Which led me to think outside the political box about how Americans might use political action money to help solve the nation's debt problems.

My idea? Let's tax political ads like they're luxury items.

Suppose political ads are taxed at the rate of $10 for every thousand dollar media purchase?  

During the 2012 King Senate campaign, that arithmetic would equal $600,000 in found tax revenue!

Just imagine how this simple arithmetic could be applied to all 50 US state budgets!  

Every election allows for a debriefing period when campaign's evaluate what was learned from the most recent campaign.

Rather than a strategic analysis, it's time Americans ask for fiscal accountability with each campaign.  In fact, a $6 million investment in Maine to defeat Governor Angus King was a total waste of money.  Indeed, the GOP would have lost this Maine election, regardless of how much, or how little, money was spent.

At least, by taxing the ad buy at a very high rate, voters would have seen some value in the negative ads.  Perhaps, voters might even pay more attention to truths and identify lies in political advertisements, if they represented sources of badly needed tax revenues going to states' treasuries.  

While state revenues could grow from a political ad tax, the national debt could, likewise, benefit from more solvent state treasuries where federal dollars wouldn't necessarily be so badly needed.  After all, more jobs could mean less entitlement spending. 
Political action committee tax revenues could even be applied to help pay the national debt, as well.  Let's get creative!

Unfortunately, many politicians aren't likely to focus on arithmetic, as the nation approaches a "fiscal cliff" budget crises.  Instead of arithmetic fixes, many politicians will grandstand, rather than calculate.

But, when the dust settles on the 2012 election and the looming fiscal cliff is, hopefully, averted, Washington policy makers must look at ways to bring more revenue into government.  

Taxing political ads for revenue is one solution nearly everyone in Maine would support.  

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