So the New York Times is breathless that “Obama Hauls in Record $750 Million for Campaign.” A lot of people are astounded at the scale of the money, and I am too. In a long, hard campaign, he raised roughly $2.50 per American, and spent slightly less than that.
Unusually, he ended his campaign not in debt, but with a small surplus. Everyone and their brother is now grubbing after that, according to the Times article. If we had a campaign finance system with transparency and accountability for donations, we would likely see spending levels like this more often, and we might well see a broader range of interesting candidate emerge and get voters engaged again.
The reality is while $750 million is a lot of money, it’s also a surprisingly small amount of money. For comparison, the 2008 Federal budget was 2.9 trillion dollars, or roughly 3900 times larger than the budget Obama just oversaw. It’s also only 1/20th of the amount we’re spending to keep Rick Wagoner in a job.