Campaign Finance

Buddy Roemer Calls It Quits


the $100 man

The Republican candidate turned Americans Elect hopeful Buddy Roemer officially suspended his quixotic campaign for President this morning. The former Louisiana governor was one of the first Republicans to launch an exploratory committee in 2011. One of a handful of Republican candidates that staked their hopes on New Hampshire, Roemer got less than 1000 votes there. At the end of the day, Buddy Roemer's campaign never got off the ground for the same reason it got more traction than, say Fred Karger's. Buddy Roemer was going to run a campaign without accepting donations over $100, because of campaign finance corruption, a gimmick that got him press, if not cash.

Personal contributions to candidates are limited to $2,500 anyway, so it's hard to see just how much more influence a $2,500 donation is supposed to have than a $100 one when presidential candidates need to collect millions to win. The infatuation with the "corrupting" influence of money in politics is bizarre anyway, especially coming from a former banker like Roemer.

Politicians don't need money to corrupt them, they can do that fine all by themselves; members of Congress can spend their entire careers enriching themselves on the taxpayer dime and not run afoul of a single law. No corporation forced former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson to hide cash in a freezer and no corporation held a gun to any member of Congress that used their ever broadening powers to legislate and regulate commercial affairs to personally enrich themselves.

but we don't want to pay for it

For all the talk of getting money out of politics, corporations often seem to be the diversionary scapegoat while the politicians try to get at the money. The idea that free of the influence of money politicians will suddenly lose their appetite for power, control and self-aggrandizement is delusional. It has no basis in human history, in psychology or, frankly, in common sense. Money in politics, as I noted after President Obama announced his "evolution" on gay marriage, is a good thing. Politicians are interested in self-preservation, not because corporations made it so, but because it's in the nature of a politician. The influence of money in politics, be it corporate money, small donors, big donors or advocacy groups, serves to diversify the voices that reach government and provides a necessary check and balance to any politician's tendency to self-enrichment.

Americans Elect raised some $20 million dollars and gained access to dozen states. But their money couldn't help them generate an interest that likely just wasn't there, as Brian Doherty notes. For reference, Buddy Roemer, because he was a former governer, needed 10,000 votes to get the nomination from Americans Elect. He had under 7,000. Roemer does, however, have nearly 30,000 Twitter followers, suggesting that at the end though his self-imposed $100 contribution handicapped him, it was an enthusiasm gap that ended his campaign, not a money gap. Money is no resource to shun on the quest for the White House; there's no reason money can't lubricate a free market in politics the way it makes the everyday exchange of goods and services so smooth and efficient, when government's not getting in the way.

NEXT: Jonah Goldberg on The Tyranny of Cliches, Creating NRO, and the Firing of John Derbyshire

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  1. I had no idea he was even running.

    1. I loved him in Barnaby Jones.

    2. Roemer and Karger cleaned Gary Johnson’s clock in most of the primaries.

  2. OT
    ObamaCare in Reverse
    Maine deregulates the insurance market. Premiums fall.…..oveLEFTTop

    1. Is there a non-walled way to read it?

      1. One tragedy of the Affordable Care Act is that we already know what its regulations will do to insurance markets, because the states have been conducting policy experiments since the 1990s. But we also know from the states that the damage is reversible, as shown by Maine’s emerging insurance turnaround.

        In 1993, Augusta passed coverage laws that resemble those that ObamaCare is about to impose nationwide: Insurers could only vary premiums within narrow bands regardless of age or health status, a regulation known as community rating. Four of Maine’s five insurers in the individual market stopped offering coverage and fled, and the state entered an insurance “death spiral” in which premiums don’t cover underlying medical costs. That leads to higher premiums, consumers dropping coverage as a result, and still higher premiums in turn.

        1. Then the 2010 electoral wave carried in Republican Governor Paul LePage and a GOP legislature, and they took modest steps to deregulate the insurance market. Insurers are now allowed to sell policies for premiums that range from 3 to 1 on the basis of age, rather than the prior 1.5 to 1, and to offer incentives or discounts for consumers to choose high-value providers.

          The state also created a reinsurance fund that taxes all health plans by $4 a month. If someone ends up requiring extremely expensive care, the fund picks up some of the costs, which means insurers can better manage their future liabilities and pass the savings on to individuals.

          1. The returns are now rolling in for the new coverage that can be offered starting on July 1, and premiums are falling by as much as 69% for Maine’s dominant insurer, Anthem.

            According to the Maine Bureau of Insurance, a married couple age 40 to 44 with one child will pay $1,919 a month for a policy with a $2,250 deductible in 2013 if they choose to re-up their current policy. If the same family switches to the new health plan, or buys the plan for the first time, their premium will fall to $920, a 52% decrease. A couple over 60 could buy the same policy for $1,290, down from $2,466 under the old system. Or a young adult 25 to 29 could buy a high $10,000 deductible plan for catastrophic expenses for $232, previously $665.

            The old and new products are not identical, so the comparison isn’t perfect. On top of the rule changes, the benefits are slightly different, such as separate deductibles for in- and out-of-network services. And many of the year-over-year reductions are less dramatic, in the range of 10% to 20%, while a few older consumers will see rate increases.

            1. Still, any premium decrease is remarkable on the U.S. health cost escalator, which is being accelerated by ObamaCare. Maine consumers who choose to stay with their current policy (same benefits, old rules) will see an average premium rate increase of just 1.7% from 2012 to 2013?compared to an historical trend of about 10%. Some 46% of the existing book of business will see a rate decrease.

              The major irony is that Maine’s reform merely brings its community rating rules into compliance with ObamaCare, which is actually less restrictive than the rules the state passed in 1993. The new national health law will block a further Maine liberalization that is due for 2016.

              Maine learned the hard way that the most heavily regulated insurance markets are the most expensive. But the more ominous lesson out of Vacationland is for the 33 states that had the wit never to make the Maine-ObamaCare mistake. They’re the ones that are about to see premiums spike under the Affordable Care Act?perhaps by as much as 69%, and likely by far more.

              1. Oh, hey thanks for that but I had already found it.

  3. I signed up for a free account with Americans Elect to check it out.

    The whole thing had a Astroturf-straight-out-of-Bernay’s-Propaganda vibe to it. The survey questions were designed with numerous false dichotomies assuming a statist approach to every problem, etc.

    The place was crawling with Paulites trying to capture it like viruses invading a cell.

    In the end, they seemed to be promoting bipartisanship (as in “We have two parties, a stupid party and an evil party. Sometimes they propose legislations that is both stupid *and* evil; we call that bipartisanship).

    Utter turn off.

    1. Wow.

    2. How did Americans Elect keep the Paulites from taking over? Were the Paul supporters still thinking they were going to secure the Republican nomination over Romney with a stealth delegate campaign, despite winning zero states?

  4. I have met Roemer and know some people that know him well. He was one of the few good governors we have had. He is an ok guy. I would take him over captain zero/ flip flopney any day.

    1. Not quite a ringing endorsement. Kind of like standing on a pile of crap and declaring oneself to be king of the mountain.

      1. “He is an ok guy….”
        For a politician that is really about the best that can be said of any of them. That makes him cream of the crop.

  5. After Buddy announced he was out I saw Rocky Anderson’s open letter to Buddy. Campaign finance reform is my biggest issue and now it seems Rocky is the only candidate in the field really pushing this. His letter is here:

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