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January 11, 2008 - Too much time, too many dollars

This week on Samuelson Sez, I want to share some numbers; some very large numbers with you, to help make my point. Let me quickly go through those numbers: $90,935,000, $80,256,000, $244,605,000, $62,830,000, $47,253,000, $167,562,000 and finally $412,168,000.

Now, let me put some names with those numbers. The $90-million, Hillary Clinton; the $80-million, Barack Obama; the $244-million, the total amount of campaign dollars raised by the eight Democratic presidential candidates through the end of 2007; $62-million, Mitt Romney; $47-million, Rudy Guiliani; $167-million, the amount of campaign dollars raised by eight Republican candidates for president. Finally, the $412-million; that is the total amount of money raised through 2007 by the candidates who are seeking a job that pays..... $400,000 a year.

I share these numbers with you to make a point you have heard me make several times through the years.....the presidential campaigns in this country take far too long. The 2008 campaign started well over a year ago and we still have eleven months to go. How many more millions of dollars will be raised to spend on lawn signs and billboards and banners and parades, and radio and television and internet advertising, to get this $400,000 a year job?

When you think of all of the children and senior citizens who could be helped by the dollars raised to campaign for president, you really have to wonder about our wisdom. There are other countries, like England for example, where the campaign to elect a new leader for the country takes about three months and never more than six months. I wish we could set similar limits in this country. And while we are at it, set reasonable limits on campaign spending so that our President is not selected on th basis of who has the most money in the campaign treasury.

There would be many advantages to setting campaign time and money limits. People in Iowa, for example, wouldn’t have the candidates living with them for a year, we wouldn’t have to hear the same speeches over and over for two years and all those dollars could be put to much better use. If you are a candidate and can’t make your point in three months, then you probably don’t deserve to be elected president.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.