$1,000,000,000. That's how much the next presidential race is going to cost, when all is said and done. A billion bucks will be collected from a small group of the nation's wealthiest and most powerful who will come knocking at the door before the last inauguration balloon hits the floor looking for a return on their dollar. It will be, as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) says: "ridiculous."
It's a perfect storm situation: President Bush is at the end of his term with no heir apparent, every hopeful on both sides of the aisle has thrown their hat in the ring, and campaign costs -- already raging out of control -- have made the presidential public financing system all but out of the question for the top contenders.
I wonder what this $1,000,000,000 will buy us, the voters. More substantive debate? Greater clarity on needed legislation to address the needs of your average American? How about personal contact with the man or woman running for the nation's highest office? Nah. They'll be too busy dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers, raising huge sums to fund 30-second ad spots that are the only way most of us will ever hear from them.