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by Robert B. Reich
What's the biggest political lesson of 2012? Some say it's that money doesn't count all that much. Even though billionaires and big corporations poured huge amounts into the 2012 election, they lost big. They learned the lesson and won't try to buy another election.
It's true their political investments didn't exactly pay off this time around.
Republican operative Karl Rove's two giant political funds -- American Crossroads (a super PAC) and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (a so-called nonprofit "social welfare organization" that doesn't have to report its donors) -- backed Mitt Romney with
Rove's groups spent another
Among Rove's investors was Sheldon Adelson -- the billionaire who owns the
Adelson wasn't alone, of course. Texas industrialist Harold Simmons invested
But if you think these losses mean the end of high-stakes political investing, you don't know how these people work.
If and when they eventually win, these billionaires will earn back many multiples of whatever they invested. Their taxes will plummet. Many of the laws constraining their profits (such as environmental laws preventing the Koch brothers from more depredations, and the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that Adelson is being investigated for violating) will disappear. And what's left of labor unions will no longer intrude on their bottom lines.
They have enough dough to keep betting until they eventually win. That's what it means to be a billionaire political investor: You're able to keep playing the odds until you get the golden ring.
Looking ahead, Adelson told the
Exactly. Adelson, Simmons, the Koch brothers and other billionaires will keep pouring in as much money as it takes to eventually win -- until they're stopped. And procurers like Rove will make sure they stay at the gaming table -- until the table is taken away.
Relative to their assets, the billionaire investors have been playing for a pittance.
In the meantime, he and other billionaire political investors are profiting from their reputations as high-stakes players.
Adelson told the
Earlier this month, he met separately with House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (the Adelsons invested
As income and wealth become ever more concentrated in America, the nation's billionaire political investors will invest more and more.
Their losses in 2012 won't deter them. Our democracy is still for sale to the highest bidders. A record
That's why Citizens United v. the
It's also why we need legislation mandating full disclosure of who contributes what to whom. And public financing that matches public money to contributions from small donors.
Most fundamentally, it's why we must reverse the scourge of widening inequality.
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The Billionaires' Long Game | Politics