A New Stimulus Plan: Keep the Campaign Going

Let's face it, in our slumping economy, there is only one growth industry left: Political campaigns. Well, maybe two, if you count bankruptcy lawyers, but we'll worry about them another time.

Think of it, while consumption on everything from autos to sofas has slowed to a trickle, campaign spending is booming. Candidates this year have raised—and are likely to spend—in excess of $5 billion. Barack Obama alone may spend something approaching $1 billion.

Even better, it is all domestic consumption. With a normal fiscal stimulus, a lot of money leaks overseas as consumers buy stuff like Korean HDTVs or Malaysian shirts. The banks seem to be mostly hoarding the $250 billion Treasury just gave them. But politicians never leave a nickel on the table, and they spend almost every cent at home. Consultants. Phone banks. Hotel rooms. Beer. Media buys for all those ads with the ominous music. Even the bumper stickers and yard signs are made in the USA.

Much of this spending is even countercyclical. Plenty of dough is going to economically hard-hit battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Nevada. Newspapers, which need every dime they can scrounge, are selling desperately-needed ads.

Even better, campaign spending does not rely on bank credit. Trust me, no lender would ever give money to a candidate without first demanding rock solid collateral. This makes politics a mostly cash (and credit-card) business, indifferent to the swings in the Libor rate, or the Lehman Bros. bond index. BTW, does anyone else wonder why we are still using a Lehman Bros. index? Aren't these guys out of business? And who is paying the poor fellow who runs these numbers all day long? Has anybody told him he's been laid off?

Truth is, no matter what I say, the electioneering won't stop. If Obama loses on Tuesday, the Hillary 2012 express will be fired up by, say, Wednesday. If McCain is defeated, it won't be much longer before Sarah Palin saddles up her snowmobile, throws on her good Republican cloth coat, and heads to Iowa for some meet-and-greets. Mitt Romney will grab his trusty hunting rifle and trundle off for some door-belling in New Hampshire before the last absentee ballot is counted.

So, why stop on Nov. 4? Let's keep the campaign going. It is good for the economy. It is good for America.