Antacids or Politics. What Costs More?

Malcolm Nicholl
Written by Malcolm Nicholl

“We spend more money on antacids that we do on politics.”

So said House Speaker John Boehner on Meet the Press this morning.

I’m tempted to say that if Boehner’s statement is true there’s probably a cause and effect. Politicians of all stripes are likely responsible for the national epidemic of acid indigestion and heartburn—conditions that plague about a third of the population.

But I’m not sure where Speaker Boehner gets his information to maker such an assertion.

Americans shell out about $2 billion a year on antacids. To be precise $1.96 billion was spent in 2013 according to Statista Inc., one of the leading statistics companies on the internet.

In contrast the Center for Responsive Politics records that the campaigns of Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney spent $1.2 billion on the 2012 campaign trying to get their guys anointed to the throne in the White House. Overall, says the Center, the presidential race cost $2.6 billion. Congressional elections in that cycle cost $3.6 billion. Total: $6.2 billion.

And buying one’s way into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue never gets any cheaper. Various media reports have quoted an “educated estimate” by Craig Smith, a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, that her 2016 campaign alone could cost $1.7 billion (including spending by outside groups). Meanwhile The Hill has calculated, based on inside information from top fundraisers and bundlers, that the presidential candidates this go round will spend more than $5 billion.

If my math is correct that’s a lot more than is spent on antacids!

Boehner’s bellyaching sound bite sounded good, but it’s far removed from reality. And the cost of politics is a little too hard to digest.

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