The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 20, 2012

Eliminate the deficit by eliminating negative ads

The Back Porch column

 

Here’s an idea that could improve both presidential candidates’ poll numbers in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 general election.

Instead of just talking about how to pay down the deficit, they could use their power to do something about it right now.

They could use their campaign spending billions to knock a hole in the deficit to keep China and other note-holding countries at bay for at least another couple of months.

It’s quite simple math, really. In an Oct. 5 news release, the Congressional Budget Office reported the fiscal year 2012 deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion, which is about $200 billion fewer than the 2011 deficit but the fourth-largest since 1947.

It’s good news that the deficit is coming down, but $1.1 trillion is still a lot of moolah.

The website OpenSecrets.org tracks political campaign fundraising by analyzing Federal Election Commission filings. The FEC is an independent regulatory agency charged with making sure all federal candidates comply with federal campaign finance laws.

OpenSecrets.org shows Romney raised $279 million through Aug. 31, the date of the most recent report. Conversely, the president raised $432 million. Those figures are for the general election cycle only.

USA Today reported Monday that Romney raked in another $171 million in September and Obama added another $181 million.

That puts the grand totals at $450 million for Romney and $613 million for Obama. Add, and it’s about $1.1 billion. Granted, that’s only about 1/1000th of the federal deficit, but it’s staggering to imagine that during this terrible, tough, crippling economy that people, corporations, political action committees and so forth could pony up that amount of money for two guys — just two guys.

It doesn’t sound like the economy is all that bad, and it suggests Congress and corporate America could do something about the deficit if they were properly motivated.

Huge chunks of both men’s totals are going to negative TV advertising. The Washington Post is tracking TV spending. Its Tuesday running tally showed the Obama camp spending $300 million with about 81 percent negative ads. The Romney camp spent $366 million with 88 percent negative ads.

Not all that money is what each campaign raised. Those tallies include spending by the independent organizations aligned with each candidate.

Nevertheless, fact checkers say both campaigns are playing fast and loose with the truth. Further, the American people are sick to death of the primetime sniping.

Therefore, the candidates would do a double public service by donating TV ad campaign money toward paying down the deficit and telling their junkyard dog allies to do the same.

Voters this year are getting plenty of opportunities to see the candidates for themselves in person, on the debates or through access to a myriad of news sources. They don’t need the lies.

But America does need the money. Think about it, fellas. First one to do it gets my vote.

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