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TheStreet Open House

Man Up, Politicos, and Pay Your Campaign Debt

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses. It is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H.L. Mencken

Newt Gingrich, debtor.

Newt Gingrich recently ended his bid for the White House. His unwillingness to depart reminded me of a scene from the original Wall Street film when Gordon Gecko dresses down the naive Bud Fox: "What are you, 12th man on the deal team, last to know?"

Really Newt? You couldn't have figured out that you had zero shot 10 states ago? The reality of Newt's situation is: What is the motivation for him to quit early anyway?

Newt was spending money he did not have, and quite frankly will never really have to repay. Does this sound familiar? Why shouldn't he continue to run for office? By spending money he does not have, nor has any idea on the means of repayment, with zero repercussions for wasteful spending, campaigning is like a modern-day political jobs training program.

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for the group Citizen Union, suggests that Newt Gingrich was very undisciplined in his spending, saying, "He was reckless in running up these bills, especially in the last month or so of the campaign when it was quite clear that Mitt Romney would be the nominee." The Gingrich campaign finished the month of March with $4.3 million in debt, an increase of $1.5 million from the end of February, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Enough with picking only on Newt, because he most certainly is not alone. Michelle Bachman owes $1 million and Rick Santorum owes $1.9 million. And it doesn't stop with Decision 2012 -- Rudy Giuliani still owes $1.5 million and Hillary Clinton owes $245,000. The ultimate candidate deadbeat award goes to John Glenn, who still owes more than $3 million more than 20 years after his failed run. In 2005, the Federal Election Commission gave Glenn a get-out-of-debt-free card and let him disband his repayment efforts.

There has been an ongoing debate in this country in regard to money and politics. We have passed ridiculous legislation such as McCain-Feingold that seems to have made things much worse. The information we got about politicians that cannot run fiscally sound campaigns, gave me an idea on how to possibly make a small dent in the "money in politics debate":

Force anyone who is running for office to make good on their campaign debts one year from the date of their contest. Man up, you politicos. If you think you are one of the best and brightest and should be representing the people, then you should also make good on your debt. The IRS forces families to pony up on estate taxes within 12 months; the least politicians can do is the same. Students cannot discharge their student loan debt, why was Glenn allowed to discharge his campaign obligations?

Living and spending within one's means is a virtue that seems all but lost on today's ruling class. Force them to guarantee campaign debt personally and maybe, just maybe, the campaigns might be a little cleaner -- and possibly the ruling elite might learn something about balancing a budget. It is either that or we start picking some better jackals.

Chris Markowski is a radio show host and founder of the financial-planning firm Markowski Investments. A former sales professional in the brokerage industry, Markowski has dedicated himself to exposing the corruption he saw there. His radio show, "Watchdog on Wall Street," is now in its 10th year of syndication.

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