President Obama is on fire. His campaign committee and the DNC raised $68 million in the final quarter of 2011, and $222 million for the year. What a haul! There are private equity funds that didn’t raise that much last year.
Though the report cheered Democrats, some noted that the trajectory of monies drag-netted by the Obama machine was headed in the wrong direction: the fourth-quarter tally slumped slightly from the third period ($70.1 million), which was in turn down from the second ($86 million), which counted as the start of this election cycle. Still, $222 million is quite a chunk of change, and certainly way more than any of the GOP presidential hopefuls have pocketed.
Obama backers remain confidant that in this cycle the president will top his $750 million haul of the 2008 election.
Earlier, enthusiasts were projecting a $1 billion pot, but such talk has been tamped down of late. That lowering of expectations could be in anticipation of a further slump in receipts. Or, it might be that for a president traveling the country lambasting “millionaires and billionaires” for not doing their fair share, raking in a billion bucks of your own (and especially from hard-pressed small donors) seems downright tacky.
Folks might wonder, aren’t there better uses for one billion dollars, or even for $750 million? What is Mr. Obama going to do with it? After all, the guerilla warfare going on across the aisle is likely to leave the GOP candidate so bloodied that Democrats may have to prop him up, just to have a bona fide election.
Mitt Romney, the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, may survive the attacks by Newt Gingrich et al, but for sure he will be a weakened candidate. He will be spending an awful lot of the $24 million he raised just to survive South Carolina.
With 21 million Americans out of work or not able to find full-time jobs, and with small businesses continuing to struggle for credit, maybe President Obama could do more than his fair share by turning over some of his campaign coffers to boost the economy.
Taking a leaf from Mr. Romney’s career, Mr. Obama could invest in companies that need growth capital. With (conservative) six-to-one leverage, $500 million of Mr. Obama’s campaign funds could provide $3 billion of funding – how significant could that be to companies beaten up in the recession? How many workers would that employ?
Or, Mr. Obama could turn over some of his winnings to the Small Business Administration – the government agency that helps provide credit and support to small companies (often cited by the president as the source of most new jobs.)
Consider: the entire budget request for the SBA is $ 985 million – the Obama camp could double the agency’s efforts!
In the current fiscal year, the SBA asked for $103 million to support 900 small business centers – Mr. Obama’s campaign could easily double the program. The agency allocated $23 million to supporting women-owned businesses – think what the campaign could provide.
It is the very smallest firms that get squeezed out of the credit markets in times of stress – companies looking to borrow $25,000 to $100,000 for instance. The Obama campaign could provide 15,000 companies with $50,000 loans. How many people could those 15,000 resuscitated companies hire?
Of course, there are trade-offs. Mr. Obama isn’t going to sit on full coffers – he will be shelling out millions for ad time and campaign buses, TelePrompters and pollsters. Still, those reelection ads would look a lot more convincing with a few sound bites from entrepreneurs whose fortunes were actually improved by Mr. Obama – a commodity scarce on the ground today. In any event, a short course in funding small companies could boost the president’s scant private sector credentials. Who knows, even Newt Gingrich might approve.