Big bucks battle as candidates fight on

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By Ralph Damiani

Anyone who does not think that money rules our election process need go no further than this year’s election.According to the Associated Press, Barack Obama raised $7.2 million and Hillary Rodham Clinton pulled in $6.4 million in the days following Super Tuesday.This is in addition to the $32 million for Obama and $13.5 million for Clinton in January.These are stunning totals, reflecting the fact that public office today is not for the common man.As the election goes on and debate rages over who has what, indeed, whatever the current balance in the money chase, both candidates have been raising and spending incredible sums.And it is scary.Each raised some $100 million last year and sped through at least $80 million of it.Now, they have sought out and have received hundreds of millions more. And they are nowhere near done.Don’t think the Republicans are any different. While their primary is not quite as heated, still they have collected millions and will collect millions more.So, what’s the big deal?Campaign finance only refers to the means by which money is raised for election campaigns. Campaigns have many expenditures, ranging from the cost of travel for the candidate to the purchasing of air time for TV advertisements, and candidates often spend a great deal of time and effort raising money to finance their cause.Since most political science literature indicates that most contributors give to support candidates with whom they are already in agreement, it is widely accepted that donors expect something in return for their donation.And therein lies the danger.Those with big pockets give lots and can expect to get lots back when their guy wins.These views have led some state governments to impose restrictions on fundraising sources and techniques in the hope of eliminating perceived undue influence being given to money interests. Another tactic is for the government, rather than private interests, to provide funding for campaigns.But it has not worked.So as the campaign moves on to the very important March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas, you can expect the money to keep flowing.And we have to wonder just who will be in whose pocket when it all said and done.And that is the real danger. 

Typical government response

 As cities and counties in New Mexico struggle with higher costs and decreasing revenues, only our state government could come up with a plan to raise taxes.No talk of cutting back state government to have money to help the local governments – no, the solution by the Legislature is to allow these local governments to impose a tax of up to one-quarter percent.So instead of dealing with these issues, they pass the buck and the poor residents of our local communities suffer.And not only are the available resources much smaller in a small town, chances are those people already have a gross receipts tax of more than 7 percent.The legislators say that about $179 million would be generated if all municipalities and counties imposed the maximum tax rate.But that has to be spread out over dozens and dozens of such entities, making each one’s piece very small.Currently, local governments can levy a capital outlay tax ‚ with voter approval and only if they have imposed the maximum rates for two other local option gross receipts taxes. The legislation would eliminate those eligibility restrictions, meaning all local governments would have the authority to impose the tax.Clearly, this is the wrong approach at the wrong time.Fortunately, the bill died in the Senate.

E-mail Ralph at ralph@lamonitor.com.