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Pragmatic Perspective: Spend as I say, but not as I do

All presidential hopefuls recently released their up-to-date campaign contributions and finances, and the reports are quite telling and even a bit maddening. We’re still more than one year away from the 2012 presidential elections, and already many of the candidates are raking in the cash, and in this day and age, money is the largest slice of the political pie.

Up to this point, all candidates on both sides of the aisle have taken in a whopping $176.3 million. President Obama, being the only Democrat in the race, has taken in nearly $87 million this campaign season. Romney, the monetary front-runner of the Republicans, has brought in nearly $33 million in contributions, with Perry trailing in second with nearly $17 million. The other candidates haven’t garnered nearly as much, but most of them have raised at least $3 million or higher. Now, I understand that these people are running a nationwide campaign and that the world of travel and advertising is an expensive one, but is it really worth the cost? Not only are these people raising insanely large amounts of cash, but they’re also spending more than they’ve raised! Isn’t it odd that many of these candidates who daily decry the over-expansion and insane spending of government are themselves running a deficit?

The worst is Mr. Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has raised approximately $2.5 million, but owes a debt of around $1.2 million, or nearly half of what he has raised. The United States government borrows nearly 40 cents of every dollar it spends, but Mr. Gingrich has borrowed nearly 50 cents of every dollar he has spent. So before Mr. Gingrich chooses to criticize government for the outrageous and irresponsible spending, perhaps he should look after his own bank account.

Michelle Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, who has been very vocal about her disgust for the government’s inability to live within its means, seems to be having a difficult time running her campaign within its means. She has raised nearly $6.4 million, but has spent nearly $7 million on her quest for the White House. Now, I could be wrong, but the last time I checked, spending more than you make is not “living within your means.” But I’m sure that if she was unable to pay her debt, she would simply default on her loans, destroy her credit and not pay what she owes, because it would be well worth the moral lesson it would teach her about not incurring excessive debt.

Mr. Herman Cain, who recently has caught fire in the polls, is yet another GOP candidate who is failing to run his campaign on a proper conservative budget. His 9-9-9 plan is getting a lot of attention, and many wonder if it actually could create jobs, increase revenues and get the economy back on track. Perhaps someone should inform Mr. Cain that a nearly $700,000 deficit isn’t going to be creating any staff jobs on his campaign.

Of all of the candidates, including President Obama and rest of the GOP candidates, there are only two whose campaigns have no debt, and those are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Now, I’m not saying that any of these people believe that debt can be completely avoided, or that they would deny debt’s vital role in the economy. I understand that their main beef with Washington is “excessive” spending and “excessive” debt, but to be so adamantly opposed to these excesses and then to expend what most would consider excessively on your own campaign is hypocritical and telling of one’s character as a candidate and as a person. This in no way means that Romney and Paul would have my vote simply because they are running a campaign with a balanced budget, but the manner in which these candidates are running their campaign’s finances will factor into my decision come November 2012.


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