Newest op-ed the New York Post: "What Bernie Sanders misses about the rise in campaign cash"
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks that millionaires and billionaries buy elections.
He hammered away during Sunday’s Democratic debate, complaining about people “pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process.”
According to estimates made by the Center for Responsive Politics, $3.77 billion was spent on elections for federal office during the 2014 midterms.
Sanders blames this on the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, prohibiting the government from restricting independent political spending by unions, corporations and advocacy groups. But the growth rate in campaign spending long predates that case, and has actually slowed down since that decision.
There was only a 4 percent increase in spending from the 2010 to the 2014 midterm elections. So much for Sanders’ “explosion.”
In fact, this rate of growth was unusually small — much smaller than the 31 percent average growth that usually took place between midterm congressional elections from 1998 to 2010.
So what really causes political spending to increase over time? The answer won’t make Sanders very happy.
The truth is that government expenditures and campaign expenditures have increased in tandem. Total campaign spending soared from $1.6 billion in 1998 to $3.77 billion in 2014. Federal government spending rose at virtually the same rate, going from $1.65 trillion to $3.9 trillion.
With more at stake, it makes sense for there to be an even bigger fight over who controls the federal government. If federal spending still amounted to 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP — as it did a century ago — people likely wouldn’t care as passionately about the outcome of most elections.
In the Journal of Law and Economics in 2000, I looked at the years 1976 to 1994 and studied spending on gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. Almost 80 percent of the increase in campaign spending could be explained by the growth of state governments. . . .The rest of the piece is available here.