"It is more blessed," Jesus said, "to give than to receive." That may be, but the billionaire backers of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and Super PAC plan to do both. As they gather this weekend for a three-day Romney conclave in Park City, Utah and a secret Koch brothers summit in San Diego, the deep-pocketed donors and bullish bundlers ultimately hope to shower $1 billion on the Republican nominee. If the captains of industry and finance succeed, they can expect a golden shower of their own in return. After all, Romney has not merely promised to roll back environmental regulations, open federal lands to energy exploration and undo the Dodd-Frank reforms of Wall Street. Just by eliminating the estate tax, President Romney would divert tens of billions of dollars currently destined for the United States Treasury into the bank accounts of the richest families in America.
Despite record high corporate profits, historically low effective upper income tax rates and a stock market which has risen by over half since January 2009, Barack Obama is not enjoying the usual fundraising advantage of incumbency. Nowhere is this more true than on Wall Street. As Politico documented:
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it are outraising Obama among financial-sector donors $37.1 million to $4.8 million.
Near the front of the pack are 19 Obama donors from 2008 who are giving big to Romney. The 19 have already given $4.8 million to Romney's presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it through the end of April, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. Four years ago, they gave Obama $213,700. None of them has given a penny to the president's reelection campaign or the super PAC supporting it.
(As the New York Times reported this week, Robert Wolf, one of the few high-profile financiers publicly supporting President Obama, has been "muzzled" by his bosses at UBS.)
The energy industry, too, is proving a gusher for Mitt Romney and his Restore Our Future Super PAC. Hours after being named an oil adviser to the Romney campaign, Harold Hamm of Continental Resources contributed $1 million of his $11 billion net worth to Restore Our Future. Charles and David Koch have pledged $395 million for the 2012 election cycle, which combined with Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Tom Donohue's U.S. Chamber of Commerce could produce a billion-dollar tidal wave of cash to wash Barack Obama out of the White House. (As one Democratic consultant described the operation, "It's just like the Cold War. They're going to force Obama to spend himself into oblivion.")
Others among the usual suspects on the right are opening their vaults as well. Former Newt Gingrich sugar daddy and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has said his donations could be "limitless" and will likely top $100 million. While billionaire investor and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts may have abandoned his Jeremiah Wright smear campaign, his is bankrolling other projects including the ersatz documentary based on Dinesh D'Souza's book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage." Meanwhile, Texas billionaire Harold Simmons has already delivered $18.7 million to Republican political organizations, a sum which will likely double by November.
(It is worth noting, as the New Republic and Huffington Post did recently, that many of Mitt Romney's Super PAC donors are embroiled in corporate bribery scandals. Adelson's casinos, the Walton family's Walmart operation in Mexico, Koch Brothers businesses in the Middle East and Meg Whitman's Hewlett Packard are all entangled with alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)
But Mitt Romney's gilded-class allies won't merely win if he slashes taxes and regulations for their businesses. They will reap a huge return on their multi-million dollar investments from the massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy would-be President Romney has in mind for them.