Voters should prepare for huge Super PAC spending in 2014 and beyond

Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014
Voters should prepare for huge Super PAC spending in 2014 and beyond story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's a term not even four years old, but one so widely used in our modern lexicon that Wednesday it found its way into the New Merriam-Webster online unabridged dictionary.

The term is 'Super PAC,' the name given to those giant political organizations that raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the candidates or issues of their choice.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says if we thought $830 million spent by Super PACs two years ago was a lot, we should brace ourselves for what's coming.

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All of this spending is thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling of four years ago--in a case commonly referred to "Citizens United," that equated spending oodles and oodles of money to free speech.

In an era when people wanted more and more accountability and transparency from their candidates, it was a ruling that virtually threw both out the window.

The ads and commercials paid for by all this money are  not officially part of anyone's campaign. Meaning that whatever messages the PAC wants to spend its millions on cannot be done  in concert with an individual campaign.

Wink, wink.

Its probably just a coincidence that lots of PACs have former campaigners for that particular candidate, or that specific issue, on their staffs--that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell became a laughing-stock the other day when he posted online two-and-a-half minutes of himself, smiling.

No narration, no message; just a smiling Mitch. Could it conceivably be that a PAC supporting his uphill campaign down in the bluegrass state needed some footage of him? Could it be a thinly disguised move to get around what campaign finance laws we have left.

It's a shell game. And they think we're suckers.

And where do these now-in-the-dictionary Super PACs get their millions of dollars? We don't know. They don't have to tell us. They can remain anonymous.

You know why? To hear them tell it, not only is it good for democracy, it protects donors from fear of retribution.

Fear of retribution? Seriously? These are the same people who continually spout the constitution.

Well, how about the founding fathers who put everything on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence? They weren't anonymous. They didn't use aliases. They stood up and were counted.

There is one member of the Supreme Court who agrees. Antonin Scalia said one who puts his name on a document is less likely to lie than one who can lie anonymously.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. Who do you think gets the ear of a politician? Us guys, who might throw $25 to $100 at someone's campaign? Or someone who coughs up two hundred grand or more?

Maybe the term Super PAC ought to have at least a secondary definition in Webster's new dictionary; how about something nuanced in reality? Something that gets to the heart of the matter?

How about legalized bribery?

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on November 28, 2014 08:26 GMT

WTO-GLOBAL TRADE DEAL

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization has pulled off a major deal that could boost global commerce by $1 trillion annually after years of negotiation.

Diplomats says the deal approved Thursday is the first multilateral trade agreement in the organization's 20-year history. It will go into effect after all 160 member countries ratify, expected sometime next year.

A U.S.-India deal this month over food stockpiling by India cleared the way for the agreement that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said "preserved the letter and spirit of the package of decisions" reached at a WTO summit last December in Bali.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the deal will "lift millions out of poverty."

OPEC MEETING

VIENNA (AP) -- OPEC oil ministers have decided to keep their present output target at 30 million barrels a day, despite an oversupply of crude and plunging prices.

The decision Thursday was expected. OPEC oil power Saudi Arabia had indicated before the meeting that it favors the status-quo.

The Saudis are the top producers within the 12-nation organization and effectively decide the cartel's policy.

Some less well-off members had favored a cut, to reduce supplies and push prices back up. But because of booming shale production in the U.S, that would not have made a sizable dent in supply.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's inflation rate fell to a six-month low, highlighting the difficulty Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in his campaign to overcome deflation in the world's third-largest economy.

The core consumer price index, excluding fresh foods, rose 2.9 percent in October from a year earlier, according to data released Friday. Excluding the impact of a 3 percentage point sales tax hike in April, it rose 0.9 percent.

The tax hike broadsided the recovery as consumers and companies reined in spending after splashing out early in the year. Retail spending and household incomes also fell in October from a year earlier.

Other data for October were mixed. Industrial output edged up from the month before but fell 1 percent from a year earlier. The unemployment rate eased slightly.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING-THANKSGIVING

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's what's quickly becoming a new holiday tradition, gift shopping on Thanksgiving.

Just a few years ago when some stores started opening late on the holiday, the move was met with resistance from workers and shoppers who believed the day should be sacred.

Last year, more than dozen major retailers opened at some point on Thanksgiving evening. And this year, at least half of them opened earlier in the evening.

The Thanksgiving openings are one way retailers are trying to compete for Americans' holiday dollars. Retailers used to focus sales promotions on Black Friday. But increasingly, they've been pushing promotions earlier to grab deal-hungry shoppers' attention.

The National Retail Federation expects 25.6 million shoppers to take advantage of the Thanksgiving openings and it's starting to take a bite out of Black Friday business. Indeed, sales dropped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion on Black Friday last year.

ARGENTINA-HSBC

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's tax agency charged HSBC bank Thursday with helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts.

The head of the country's AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts.

Echegaray alleged that some of those accounts in Geneva are owned by HSBC Argentina's president and other bank executives. He did not say if the bank's operations had been suspended in Argentina.

AFIP said it got its information from France, where HSBC was placed under formal investigation last week for possibly aiding tax evasion. The banking company has also been charged in Belgium with organized fiscal fraud.

HSBC said it respects Argentine laws and has committed no wrongdoing.

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