PAC system needs to be reimagined
One of the biggest interests in American politics is who will take the Koch Brothers’ money. Oil tycoons Charles and David Koch are the sixth wealthiest persons in the world in the Forbes Worlds’ Billionaires list this year, and they vowed to make $889 million in political donations. They practically declared themselves kingmakers by backing a Republican candidate in next year’s presidential election. While they have always been the big donors for the Republican Party in every election, they have made a drastic decision for political turnover.
However, even the multi-billionaire brothers would not give money for nothing. Their condition is more of an audition. The presidential candidates will engage in a policy debate before the Koch Brothers and the “winner” will be given political funding. They kindly disclosed a set of criteria they are looking for. They will give higher marks to the candidates who present business-friendly policies, such as tax cuts and deregulation. But in the end, they want to back the candidate who helps their business interests.
Their intention to influence policy may hurt political pride, but Republican candidates seem to think differently. Instead, they are competing to show their loyalty.
Let me be very clear: I admire Charles and David Koch. They are businessmen who have created hundreds of thousands of jobs
But the media analyzed that the 2016 presidential election will be the most expensive campaign in history, costing more than $80 billion. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has not even announced his candidacy yet, but he is likely to raise more than 100 million dollars by next month. It’s hard to do politics without money. Last year, candidates running for Senate seats in the midterm elections spent an average of 10 million dollars each. What brings substantial support is not individual donors but a few “super rich” sponsors, and it leads to favors and corruption.
We often think there is a lot to learn from American politics. But the relationship between money and politics is not one of them. A “Super PAC” - or political action committee - can accept unlimited political donations. While they are supposed to be independent, they increasingly become subordinate to campaign camps. They often use expedient means to hide funding sources. While President Obama openly denounced the PAC funding practices, the issue is too complicated to resolve easily. The policies related to money need to be as conservative as possible, and the first step should be made with extra prudence. Presidential candidates competing in an audition to get political funding from donors seems to be a crisis of democracy.
*The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, May 2, Page 26
by LEE SANG-BOK