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Mark Shields' op-ed column: Mark Hanna Was Right
As uncomfortable as it is for Democrats to admit, Barack Obama in 2008 chose to ignore the reform law and instead became the first presidential nominee since Richard Nixon to run his general election--with no spending limits--exclusively by raising private money. And raise it he did. According to the final reports, the 2008 Obama campaign outspent Republican John McCain by better than 2 to 1, $745 million to $368 million.
But 2008 was the aberrational political year, when the Obama campaign became for millions a crusade. That was then. This is now. As the incumbent president continuing to wield executive power, Barack Obama is still able to raise a lot of "protection" contributions from business interests. But whoever captures the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination will be at an enormous fundraising disadvantage against the Republican nominee when the corporate and financial crowd will be free to give, with impunity, to the GOP.
Add to this the senseless Supreme Court decisions that, for the first time since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, enable corporations to spend directly--and even anonymously--to back or attack candidates and make America safe for millionaires to donate millions to phony, so-called "independent" groups that are frequently operated by the candidate's closest supporters.
According to the trusted Center for Responsive Politics, "Business interests dominate, with an overall advantage over organized labor of about 15 to 1."
Then we have the new celebrity donors, such as Las Vegas-Macau casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has already donated $35 mil-
Mark Shields is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.