March 3, 2024

Battle of Billionaires


Founded by Drew Pearson 1932

Battle of Billionaires

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – The Battle of the Budget is peaking; the Battle of Billionaires is about to begin.

In 1993, First Lady Hillary Clinton spearheaded the campaign for national health insurance and failed, in part due to the insurance industry’s famous “Harry and Louise” commercials. Those commercials helped convince the American public that national health insurance was a bad idea. That was then.

Today, the Republican-controlled House first tacked on a defunding of Obamacare to the funding bill known as a CR (continuing resolution), which the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected. The House then passed a CR with a clause that would delay much of Obamacare for one year. This, of course, was a non-starter for Democrats, as was the next similar attempt by the House.

As a result, there does not appear to be a graceful or politically expedient way out of the conundrum, and significant parts of the government shut down on October first.

Enter the billionaires. Folks such as the Koch brothers on the right and George Soros on the left may be set to flood the country with their competing versions of “Harry and Louise”. It would be a battle for the hearts and minds of the American public, but it might not play out as expected. Few battles do.

Instead of convincing a substantial majority to coalesce around a campaign to pressure Congress, such an advertising war might instead serve to further split the right and left into increasingly hostile camps.

The red-state-blue-state phenomenon emerged from the upheavals of the ‘60s when Baby Boomers came of age amid the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and women’s lib, culminating with the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision that invigorated religious political influence. Since then, the split in the country has been mirrored in Congress where civility, decorum, and compromise have increasingly become casualties. Next, the Great Recession of 2008-9 gave voice to the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement which became an intransigent counterweight to fiscally liberal Keynesians who adhere to the economic philosophy of John Maynard Keynes who famously advised world leaders to spend their way out of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Tea Partiers do not make up a majority in Congress or even a majority of the majority Republicans in the House, but they wield enough clout to oust House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and others in primary elections.

All this is backdrop for the looming Battle of Billionaires, a battle made possible by the nation’s growing economic disparity manifested by a shrinking middle class and an ever wealthier group of modern-day Robber Barons. If this battle were to result in rational debate the country would benefit from votes cast by an informed electorate, but political ads are rarely rational or even truthful, and this leads to irrational schisms. And a worsening of the red-state-blue-state divide is just what the battling billionaires could bring.

© 2013 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.


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