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Super PACs And Big Money In Politics

Republican super PACs and billionaires are pouring millions into American politics. Now team Obama has joined the fray. We’ll look at giant money and the vote.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, left, accompanied by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, to discuss the disclosure of super PAC donors to the Republican presidential candidates. (AP)

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, left, accompanied by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, to discuss the disclosure of super PAC donors to the Republican presidential candidates. (AP)

The scale of big money in this year’s presidential election campaign is taking the influence of the dollar to a new level in American democracy.  Single individuals – billionaires – have been key to keeping whole candidacies alive in the Republican primary, with their unlimited super PAC contributions.

Now, President Obama has reversed his rejection of super PAC money and said bring it on.  To even the scales, say his supporters.  Is this one man one vote?  Or an oligarchs’ jamboree?  A billionaires’ party?

This hour, On Point: big, big money and the American vote.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dave Levinthal, money and politics reporter for Politico.

Elizabeth Drew, contributor to The New York Review of Books, where her newest piece is called, “Can We Have a Democratic Election?

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Review of Books “In all of the excitement over the Republicans’ sweep of the 2010 elections—their recapture of the House of Representatives, the decrease in the Democrats’ margin in the Senate, and the emergence of the Tea Party as a national force—most of us missed the significance of their victories in the states. ”

Politico “About the only thing more notable than the donor information super PACs this week revealed is the information they didn’t.”

Open Secrets “Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, Super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis — the Super PAC’s choice — as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates.”

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