Getting Richer By Comparison

There is a certain perverse satisfaction, it must be confessed, in reading about the financial difficulties of the formerly rich and still famous. On a surprisingly regular basis we come across reports of some absurdly well-remunerated athlete or entertainer heading to bankruptcy court with liabilities exceeding assets by so many millions of dollars, and it always makes our penurious state seem more tolerable to know that at least we’re better off than that poor schmuck by so many millions of dollars. Over on the business pages we will often find consolation that our financial position is healthier by billions of dollars than that of iconic corporations, or some large cities, and we sometimes get the impression that we’re wealthier than the entire airline industry.
Not one of these stories has ever produced such an overpowering sense of schadenfreude, however, as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee recently admitting that “We’re in the red.”
The always-entertaining Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the admission in a recent fund-raising e-mail, telling her party’s ever-loyal donors that “The cardinal sin in campaigns is to sit on money — which is why we spent every last penny we had in 2012 (and then some) to make sure the election went our way.” Without specifying how much “then some” is, Wasserman Schultz explains that a failure to go into debt might have resulted in a President Mitt Ryan, Vice President Paul Ryan, and Rep. Allen West, as if these nightmarish outcomes would justify any profligacy. Democrats are notoriously susceptible to the argument that only massive debt can ward off all sorts of catastrophes, so Wasserman Schultz’s frank confession of party’s fiscal irresponsibility probably makes for an effective fund-raising appeal, but she might not realize how much it warms a Republican heart. After all the whining about the insidious influence of corporate money on the elections, and all the pining for the federally-funded election schemes that Barack Obama threw away to win his races, it’s refreshing to hear the Democrats boast about how they won by out-spending the opposition on borrowed money.
In a related development, Wasserman Schultz was also reassuring her party’s faithful that future fund-raising and fund-borrowing efforts won’t be hampered by the formidable competition of Obama’s very own Organizing for Action organization, which is basically his re-election campaign going on forever. Other Democratic poobahs are less sanguine about it, with one DNC member telling the McClatchy syndicate that “There’s only so much money to go around in Democratic circles,” but one wonders about the party bona-fides of anyone who doubts the infinite nature of money.
In what has to be considered a completely unrelated development, the president has reportedly proclaimed April as the month to “teach young people” how to “budget responsibly.” The story went on April Fool’s Day, so at first we were skeptical its veracity, but the White House web site with the proclamation of “National Financial Capability Month” sure looks official. At the very least it looks expensive.

— Bud Norman

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